On Tuesday, Transport Minister Dipuo Peters revealed that road fatalities rose by 5% from the previous year this festive season (1 December 2016 – 9 January 2017).
While there were many factors that contributed to this including drunken driving, pedestrians crossing busy roads and careless speeding – the majority of fatal accidents were as a result of head-on collisions.
Peters said that much of what is to blame for the high fatality rate is drivers’ stubborn road safety attitudes.
“The problem is that people just don’t want to change their attitude on the roads . . . Stop trying to impress your friends. The culture of the driver alerting the passengers that their seatbelts are not on is not there,” Peters said in her statement.
According to Peters, 75% of the fatalities recorded were men and the provinces that had the highest number of road fatalities included KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, the Eastern Cape and Gauteng. These four provinces made up about 61% of road deaths.
Another factor in the increased number of deaths is that there were almost 250 000 more vehicles on the road this year compared to the previous one. She went on to warn that intensive audits would be done on licensing centres.
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“If you got your learner’s or driver’s licence through dubious means, know that you will soon lose it,” she said.
Over this festive season, over 400 000 fines were issued, and over 9000 people arrested with 432 roadblocks conducted across the country. The highest recorded speed was on the R21 in Gauteng, with a motorist travelling at around 239km/h.
Drunk driving still remains a schedule 3 offence, but Peters announced that her department is looking to change it to a schedule 5 offence in the Criminal Procedures Act which would classify it in the same category as rape and murder.
Additional sources: Times Live, EWN