'SA roads are still slaughterhouses': Report shows increase in festive season road deaths

16 January 2019 - 18:35 By Alex Patrick
Two people, including a child, were killed and five others injured in a head-on crash between a car and a bakkie in Eloff, Mpumalanga, on December 23 adding to the festive season death toll.
Two people, including a child, were killed and five others injured in a head-on crash between a car and a bakkie in Eloff, Mpumalanga, on December 23 adding to the festive season death toll.
Image: ER24

There were 1,612 deaths on South African roads during the festive season.

This is according to the preliminary Festive Season Road Safety Report, that transport minister Blade Nzimade released on Wednesday in Pretoria.

"Although we have not succeeded in achieving the goal of a 10% reduction in fatalities over this period, we shall not despair. We will continue to take incremental steps until we reach our goal," Nzimande said.

The report covered the period from the December 1 2018 to January 8, 2019.

The minister called the six-week period "very challenging and difficult", saying resources "were stretched to the limit" and the country's roads continued to be "slaughter houses".

Despite the road safety programmes by the department, the death toll rose to 1,612 from last year's 1,527. 

Nzimande quoted The World Health Organisation's Global Status Report on Road Safety, released in December, which stated that 58% of road traffic deaths in SA involved alcohol and that the seat-belt wearing rate was as low as 38% for drivers and 31% for front-seated passengers.

According to Wednesday's report, "At least 36% of people dying from road-related incidents this year were passengers." This is an increase from 34% recorded last year.

Nzimande said this was testament to the number of high-occupancy vehicles, particularly minibus vehicles, that were involved in fatal crashes.

According to preliminary figures, 1,286 crashes were recorded nationwide. 

The provincial breakdown of accidents and deaths is:

  • Eastern Cape, 195 crashes with 238 fatalities;
  • Free State, 95 crashes with 159 fatalities;
  • Gauteng, 208 crashes with 219 fatalities;
  • KwaZulu-Natal, 267 crashes with 328 fatalities;
  • Limpopo, 138 crashes with 178 fatalities;
  • Mpumalanga, 123 crashes with 162 fatalities;
  • Northern Cape, 42 crashes with 54 fatalities;
  • North West, 93 crashes with 125 fatalities; and
  • Western Cape, 125 crashes with 149 fatalities.

A comparison of this year's statistics with those for the same period last year depicts that the Northern Cape, with a 80 percentage points increase, the Free State, with a 28 percentage points increase, and the Eastern Cape, with a 22 percentage points increase, recorded the highest percentage increases in fatalities.

Gauteng recorded a 19 percentage points decrease.

"We remain concerned about the incalcitrant attitude of our road users as the statistics show that human factors account for 90% of contributory factors to fatal crashes compared to vehicle factors that contributed four percent while road and environmental factors contributed 6%," Nzimande said.

According to the report:

  • 765,009 notices were issued;
  • 4,016 vehicles were discontinued;
  • 2,967 vehicles were impounded; and
  • 8,507 motorists were arrested (2,223 arrests were for drunk driving and 775 for speeding).

Additionally, 17 officials were implicated in the fraudulent issuing of learner licences and roadworthy certificates and four motorists were arrested in separate incidents for trying to bribe traffic officials.


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