The minister of transport, Ben Martins, announced the 2012/2013 preliminary festive season road death statistics during a media briefing held in Durban last week and singled out road fatalities as the major contributor to the 1 221 deaths recorded over the festive period.
In December 2012, the department, its agencies and partners announced various measures to be undertaken to promote the safety of people on the roads throughout the festive season and called on South Africans to observe and obey road rules.
Awareness campaigns were launched and some are still running in all official languages across different media platforms, including radio, television, newspapers and below the line media. A dedicated website under the theme ‘Get There: No Regrets’ was also created to keep the public informed about the state of the roads throughout the festive season.
Citizens were also kept informed about the road fatalities statistics on a daily basis and constant reminders on some of the most common causes of road accidents were communicated to the public on a regular basis using various media platforms in order to avoid road fatalities that continue to claim lives on our roads, at an alarming rate.
Martins emphasised that the festive season programme is not implemented in isolation, but forms part of an ongoing programme of campaigns that the department of transport and the department’s agencies carried out in conjunction with transport stakeholders and the general public throughout the year to ensure that lives are saved.
“Road traffic fatalities are amongst the main causes of death in South Africa and result in serious social and economic costs for the country, the consequences of the actions include the loss of family members, bread winners and leave behind traumatised families” said Martins.
He said road accidents cost the economy R306 billion each year.
“A significant amount of financial resources were invested to promote awareness and to intensify enforcement and up-scale general traffic officer visibility, 17 000 traffic officers were deployed on our roads to police a road network of over 750 000 kms, used by more than 10 million cars.
According to the South African Police Services, it is estimated that approximately 1 465 people lost their lives during the festive period and the main causes of the road fatalities were drunken driving, excessive speeding, dangerous overtaking, not using seatbelts and unroadworthy vehicles.
Martins said the campaign also emphasised the need for drivers and passengers to buckle up whenever they start a journey, even if it is for a short journey because people who buckle up have a greater chance of surviving an accident.
“A number of passengers, especially women and children, died because they were not wearing seatbelts. Approximately 40 percent of the fatalities involved pedestrians most of whom walk on the road while drunk” added Martins.
He said the department will continue to improve its enforcement policies and strategies, and upscale public safety campaigns and specific interventions, going forward. The department will also review existing legislative instruments to identify areas that need strengthening and further improvements
“We will review the current alcohol limit, support the total ban on alcohol advertising, give harsher measures for serial and habitual offenders and do school campaigns on road safety but also strengthen co-ordination and partnerships within government and outside government to maximize the impact of the public education and awareness programmes.”
Martin said the department will also include the development of a single national policy on the role and functions of the road safety councils which will mobilise communities to participate in road safety campaigns.
He said the department will continue striving to improve the state of our roads and the public transport system, take further steps towards the implementation of the driver’s license demerit system and also further technological innovations regarding the use of speed cameras.
The law enforcement statistics issued by the Free State department of roads, police and transport for the period of December 1 to 31 demonstrate that a total number 62 305 vehicle were stopped throughout the province’s roads. During the period, a total number of 61 deaths were registered; it included 43 passengers, 25 drivers and two pedestrians.
The law enforcement team impounded 342 vehicles, arrested 15 drivers for drunken driving and also arrested nine for speeding. Traffic fines were given to 210 drivers for overtaking on barrier line, 27 to inconsiderate drivers and 275 drivers were caught on camera for speeding while 283 were prosecuted after being registered manually by the law enforcement teams.