Peters wary of ‘urge to celebrate’ drop in Easter road fatalities
The number of fatalities in the country's roads over this past Easter long weekend decreased sharply compared to last year.
Transport Minister Dipuo Peters revealed at a press briefing in Pretoria that 156 deaths were recorded between last Thursday and Monday this week‚ while 287 people died over the same period over the 2015 Easter weekend.
“This represents a much-welcomed 46% decline‚” said Peters.
She said the “sharp decline” was despite an increase of 333 226 new vehicles on the country's roads. There are an estimated 11.7-million registered vehicles in South Africa.
Peters was emboldened that the country was now beginning to make strides in reducing road fatalities.
South Africa has one of the world's highest number of deaths on its roads and is a signatory to the United Nation's goal of reducing fatal accidents by 50%.
“Though the figures indicate that we have turned the tide a little bit‚ and as a result we may have the urge to celebrate this achievement‚ but I must hasten to indicate that we dare not put the foot off the pedal and rest on our laurels‚” said Peters.
“We must press on even harder and maintain the good work we are doing‚ until the day when every single life on our roads will be safe.”
Justice Protect South Africa’s Howard Dembovsky echoed Peters by saying the “seeming 46% reduction in road fatalities…is no cause for celebration and it is most certainly no reason for motorists to let their guard down”.
Dembovsky noted that a “somewhat unique situation that prevailed” this Easter in that “last week only comprised of three days with Human Rights Day falling on the 21st and Good Friday falling on the 25th of this month‚ coupled with the school holidays coinciding with these public holidays‚ would naturally mean that traffic concentrations would have been significantly lower than they would ordinarily be over an Easter long-weekend”.
“In addition‚ the fact that this Easter fell before the month-end on which many people receive their salaries would have also have had an influence‚” he added.
“Without detracting from the efforts made by dedicated law enforcement officials who were out in force over the Easter period‚ we remind the public that the Human Rights Day long-weekend saw terrible carnage on our roads.”
Peters said all but one province recorded decreases this year. Only the Northern Cape had the same number of fatalities year-on-year.
The transport ministry attributed the dip in fatalities to strategic planning and hard work by traffic officers.
“The instruction to the law enforcement officers was simple‚ lound and clear: Zero-tolerance and no mercy for traffic violations on the road‚” said Peters.
Officers arrested 913 motorists for drunken driving and 502 for speeding.
The highest speed recorded was a vehicle travelling at 227km/h in KwaZulu-Natal. In Gauteng a motorist clocked 206km/h.
Media reports confirmed that Orlando Pirates goalkeeper Brighton Mhlongo was arrested for driving at 173km/h. He was detained in Langlaagte.
“We urge celebrities and role models to behave in an exemplary manner‚” said Peters.
Two traffic officers were knocked down and killed on duty. Peters said they were “killed by drivers who are reckless and do not value life”.
“We are seriously concerned about the recalcitrant behaviour of our drivers who willy-nilly take the lives of our law officers.”
Two officers were arrested in Gauteng and Mpumalanga for soliciting bribes from motorists. - TMG Digital/Sowetan