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Road accidents reduced over Easter

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The Easter road traffic statistics indicate that law enforcement efforts are yielding some positive results, with the number for crashes being reduced by 2.1% – while fatalities came down by 9.6%.

This year’s Easter statistics was compared to the 2019 Easter statistics as the 2020 period was characterised by a hard lockdown, which restricted interprovincial travel and movement between districts. 

“According to the preliminary figures, 189 crashes were recorded, resulting in 235 fatalities nationwide.  … In 2019, there were 193 crashes, which resulted in 260 fatalities. This means that we have made headway in reducing the number of crashes in general and fatalities in particular,” Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said on Thursday.

He was addressing a media briefing on the Easter road traffic statistics on the N1 Grasmere Toll Plaza.

The provincial breakdown for the statistics is as follows:

  • Eastern Cape 22 crashes and 27 fatalities;
  • Free State eight crashes and 13 fatalities;
  • Gauteng 30 crashes and 36 fatalities;
  • KwaZulu-Natal 42 crashes and 54 fatalities;
  • Limpopo 27 crashes and 34 fatalities;
  • Mpumalanga 15 crashes and 18 fatalities;
  • Northern Cape six crashes and seven fatalities;
  • North West 15 crashes and 20 fatalities;
  • Western Cape 24 crashes and 26 fatalities.

“The Northern Cape, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and North West recorded increases in fatalities while declines were recorded in all other five provinces. It is however concerning to note that the number of pedestrians who died on the roads this year was higher compared to 2019,” the Minister said.

Pedestrian fatalities increased by five percent from 30% to 35% compared to 2019.

“We have observed that about 6% of pedestrian fatal crashes occurred between midnight and 02:00 in the morning, when people were moving around in violation of COVID-19 curfew,” Mbalula said.

Passenger fatalities declined from 38% to 34% as there were no major crashes involving five or more deaths in a single incident.

Deaths among motor vehicle drivers and cyclists remained unchanged. They remain around 30% and 1%, respectively.

“These results reflect the success of our relentless and tireless campaign of 365 days wherein we have made road safety a constant project and not a once-off exercise targeted only for peak periods. The decline in both crashes and fatalities recorded is an indication that we are making progress towards achieving the 2030 global target of halving road fatalities,” the Minister said.

Mbalula attributed the success to the decrease in road crashes to the early preparation with education and awareness campaigns in communities, increased visibility of law enforcement officers, stakeholder involvement and a high-profile media campaign.

There were 336 roadblocks conducted this Easter. A total of 178 053 vehicles were stopped and checked; 32 070 traffic fines were issued; 823 vehicles were discontinued and 782 vehicles were impounded.

During the period, 438 motorists were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol; 112 motorists were arrested for excessive speeding; 28 motorists were arrested for inconsiderate, reckless and negligent driving.

Two law enforcement officers – a traffic officer and a police captain – were arrested for bribery and corruption.

“The high number of vehicles discontinued; drunken driving and speeding arrests made reflect the success of the use of technology to improve traffic policing. The mobile vehicle testing station assisted in the identification and removal from the roads of vehicles that could potentially have caused major crashes.

“The evidential breath alcohol testing technology helped to arrest motorists who were driving under the influence of alcohol, while high speed vehicles – fitted with high-tech vehicle identification systems – ensured the arrest of those who were driving at excessive speed,” the Minister said.

Fatalities on the road

A number of factors embedded in human behaviour or attitude, vehicle factors as well as environment or road factors influences the carnage experienced on the roads.

“There were no fatalities on Thursday when traffic volumes reached the peak. However, they spiked on Friday between 18:00 and 22:00 when people had reached their destinations and were indulging in weekend festivities that include alcohol consumption,” the Minister said.

He said one of the major disturbing elements emerging from the information gathered thus far is the vulnerability of pedestrians and passengers.

At least 35% of people who died on the roads are pedestrians.

Their vulnerability manifests itself in the following ways:

  • Drinking and walking, including jaywalking,
  • Crossing the road at dangerous points,
  • Informal settlements situated alongside busy roads and intersections
  • Walking on and crossing of highways, and
  • Failure to wear visible clothing at night

“Preliminary figures show that we experienced an increase in traffic volumes along major arterial routes leading out of Gauteng and back. The N1 north to Limpopo, the N3 towards Kwa-Zulu Natal and the N4 towards Mpumalanga were particularly busy.

“The N3 recorded the highest volume of traffic with 151 143 vehicles travelling through various tollgates on this route. The N1/N4 followed with a total of 120 573 vehicles passing through tollgates between Gauteng, Limpopo and the North West,” the Minister said.

The N1 south between Gauteng through the Free State to the Western Cape recorded 64 001 vehicles while 14 864 vehicles were registered on the N2 in KwaZulu-Natal.

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