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Easter weekend road stats: alcohol and pedestrians were the main problems

There was significant increase in the volume of traffic on the country's roads this Easter weekend (Photo: Tony Carnie)

With the busy weekend coming to an end, figures relating to the flouting of road rules are trickling in. Early indications are that road safety protocols were not adhered to, especially in terms of drinking and driving, and there was a significant increase in the number of pedestrians and hitchhikers.

Approximately 70,000 vehicles were on the N3 between Durban and Gauteng at peak travel time on Thursday and Friday as the Easter weekend rolled in.

A further 50,000 were recorded on the N1 to Limpopo, said Simon Zwane, spokesperson for the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RMTC).

After last year’s quiet Easter Weekend amid lockdown Level Five, the figures are reminiscent of a pre-Covid Easter weekend.

 “We planned for the week to be busy. We knew that there were no [stringent] restrictions – people could travel provincially,” Zwane said. “We would have to wait for all the numbers to come in before we can say for sure – but it seems to be as busy as it once was.”

In anticipation of busy roads, all provinces deployed their resources on the road to combat the collateral damage of the weekend, Zwane said. 

Statistics available so far indicate that 1,294 travellers were fined for not wearing seatbelts, said Zwane.

This was alongside many unroadworthy cars – 417 were immediately taken off the road, Zwane said.

“Some minibus owners took the opportunity to transport passengers without the necessary permits. More than 480 vehicles were impounded for these transgressions,” said Zwane.

Drunk driving was another big factor, with 280 motorists arrested for drunken driving from Thursday to Saturday alone, Zwane told Daily Maverick.

“The highest breath alcohol content was recorded in Maclear in the Eastern Cape where a motorist measured 2.40mg/1000 ml,” he said.

The permissible breath alcohol concentration is 0.24mg/1000ml.

“Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula is monitoring traffic volumes, adherence to road rules as well as compliance to Covid-19 regulations during the Easter period,” said Ayanda-Allie Paine, spokesperson for the Ministry of Transport. “The minister will soon announce statistics to that effect. Minister Mbalula continues to urge all road users to travel with caution, so as to avoid the dual threat of collisions and the spread of the Coronavirus.”

SAPS would only have consolidated figures of non-compliance after the long weekend came to an end, said Brenda Muridili, SAPS spokesperson.

Yet the biggest challenge observed over the weekend was not the motorists on the roads but the high number of pedestrians along the roads, Zwane pointed out.

“Some of these people were drunk and crossing the roads when it is not safe to do so,” he said. 

He said the challenge of pedestrians on the road is an ongoing difficulty, but this year the RMTC had noticed an increase in their numbers. He added that there was also an increase in the number of hitchhikers. 

More pedestrians could be linked to the number of increased settlements along the road and the current economic situation, Zwane said. 

“People have lost jobs. We don’t know whether [an increase in informal settlements and hitchhikers] are consequences of the job losses during the year but there were many people alongside the road, some with kids,” he said.

Zwane added that it was pleasing to see that most people were travelling during the day and not so many travelling during the night.

According to him, this was not owing to the curfew but rather proper planning for travelling on the roads.

“We have been preaching to [commuters] that they must plan their travelling to happen when there is sufficient light and that message seems to be filtering through, as many people are travelling during the day,” he said.

The RMTC are still collating statistics on the number of accidents and fatalities. “We will have a full picture later in the week,” Zwane said. DM

 

 

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  • I am somewhat taken aback by the article’s heading. To label “alcohol and pedestrians” as “problems” does not sit well with me. Pedestrians are not, per se, a problem – they are the most vulnerable users of our roads and if car drivers are not keeping them safe, then the problem is elsewhere!

  • Statistics present a fearful picture but there is an element missing in the statistics which I suggest should be added. What brand of beer or liquor was it that drunken drivers or pedestrians consumed. Such a statistic may indicate whether drinking responsibly is a possibility.

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