There was an 11% reduction in road fatalities over the feative season, but a still massive number of people - 1,527 - died. By ORATENG LEPODISE.
Minister of transport, Joe Maswanganyi, released the preliminary festive season road safety report for the year 20117/2018 on Monday in Pretoria.
A 10% reduction in road fatalities target was set at the launch of the festive season in Bela Bela on 5 December 2017 by Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC). The department of transport achieved an 11% reduction in fatalities for the 17/18 festive season.
“We recognise that the success we have achieved this year would not have been possible without the dedication and commitment of our traffic officers and member of the South African Police , throughout the country who sacrificed their time to assist us save lives on the roads,” said Maswanganyi.
The target was reached even though there were a high number of registered vehicles and driving licences as compared to the 2016 period.
In 2017 there were 11,028,193 registered vehicles in the country compared to 10,801,558 in 2016. There were 12,163,813 drivers licences issued as compared to 12,658,135 in 2016.
“It is critical that we start by appreciating the fact that we entered this festive season with a high number of registered vehicles compared to the same period in 2016,” said Maswanganyi.
Although there has been a decline of 43% in road fatalities there has been a unsettling increase of fatalities in municipal boundaries of eThekwini, Johannesburg, Nkangala, Cape Town, Ekurhuleni, Ehlanzeni, Capricorn, City of Tshwane, Thabo Mofuntsanyane and Bojanala. This was mainly caused by pedestrians, jay walking and hit and runs.
According to RMTC, the highest number of fatalities was among pedestrians, which increased from 34% to 37%.
The number of people who have died over this festive season is still a massive 1,527 — from 1 December 2017 to 9 January 2018. Over the same period last year, there were 1,714 deaths.
“This represents an 11% decline which surpassed the 10% target,” said Maswanganyi. When looking at the entire holiday season, which ran from 1 December 2017 to 15 January 2018, there were 1,676 fatalities compared to 1,875 fatalities the previous year.
According to RTMC the festive season period is defined as the period between 1 December and the day before the re-opening of schools. This means that this year the festive season was much longer compared to the previous year.
“To enable proper comparison I will give you a preliminary report of 1 December 2016 to 9 January 2017 and 1 December 2017 to 9 January 2018,” explained Maswanganyi.
In 2017, Maswanganyi made commitments to deal with fraud and corruption. This would be achieved by engaging with the department of justice on a reclassification process of some road offences. This would also begin the process of the introduction a 24/7 shift within traffic law enforcements.
“Evidence from this festive season period illustrate that we indeed kept our promise to make sure that our roads are safer,” said Maswanganyi.
RMTC closed down state-owned driving licence centres in their efforts to deal with fraud and corruption, a centre in Limpopo was closed down where driving licences and learners’ were being issued out without any regard to the fitness of the driver. Due to this, five examiners and three civilians who facilitated these corrupt dealings were arrested.
In Gauteng RTMC raided three privately owned vehicle testing centres and 10 vehicle examiners where charged on allegations of fraudulently issuing roadworthy certificates to vehicles which had not been examined.
“These efforts inspired more dedicated traffic officers to also act against offers of bribes by corrupt motorists. Their inspiration resulted in the arrest of three motorists who offered bribes to traffic officers,” said Maswanganyi. Twelve traffic officers were also arrested for taking bribes from motorists.
There has been noticeable declines in the number of road fatalities in seven provinces, with the exception of the North West and Western Cape provinces, which recorded 11% and 7% increases.
There has been an increase in fatalities amongst drivers from 23% to 27%, but there was a decline in passenger fatalities from 41% to 35%, “This indicates that it is possible to save more lives if more people use safety belts,” said Maswanganyi.
According to the preliminary report, there was an increase in the deaths among youthful drivers between the ages of 25 and 34. However, there was also an decrease in the number of fatalities among drivers who are aged between 35 and 49. However, it was the other way around with pedestrians there was a significant decrease noted by RTMC among youthful pedestrians aged 25 to 34 and there was a disturbing increase among those aged 35 to 44.
In the period of 1 December 2017 to 15 January 2018 there has been 304 603 traffic violation notices a decrease from the previous year which noted 453,263.
RTMC’s major focus was drunk driving however there has been a decline in the number of drivers who were arrested for drunken driving from 5943 in the 2016/17 period to 3301 in the 2017/18 period.
‘This is another evidence of improved compliance and the success of our messages warning against drinking and driving,” said Maswanganyi.
Maswanganyi vowed that in the coming months RMTC will intensify the implementation of the Road Safety Strategy and roll out the evidential breath analysis centres in all nine provinces to be able to speed up the prosecutions of those who practice drunken driving.
Furthermore Maswanganyi declared 2018 as the year of improved road safety in South Africa. RTMC will work with the Special Investigating Unit to intensify investigations into fraud allegations of improper conduct in relation to the registration and licensing of motor vehicles and the irregularities of issuing drivers’ licences. DM
File Photo: Minister of transport, Joe Maswanganyi: Photo: GCIS
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