Martins: Save lives not time

2012-12-24 00:00

PRIORITISE life above personal convenience — this was the message from Transport Minister Ben Martins, as the weekend death toll on the country’s roads rose to at least 26.

The total number of road deaths stood at 765 since the festive season began.

“… If each motorist aimed to save a life each time they got into their vehicles, the nation would make considerable progress in the fight against road carnage,” Martins said.

Despite all the efforts by government, the private sector and civil society, South Africa continued to see lives lost on its roads.

“We need a 360-degree turn in driver attitudes if we are to succeed. People need a rethink of their responsibilities towards a safe and sustainable society,” Martins said.

Seventeen of the major crashes recorded since December 1 were head-on collisions due to dangerous overtaking.

Martins urged traffic officers not to compromise when dealing with road transgressions and to deal decisively with reckless and negligent road behaviour.

Corrupt traffic officers would also not be tolerated, he said. “Any act of dereliction of duty on the part of any officer has potential consequences, sometimes even fatal.”

By early evening yesterday, 26 people had been killed and 44 injured in road accidents across the country over the weekend.

The most deadly accident reported yesterday took place on the N9 between Aberdeen and Willowmore in the Eastern Cape, in which five people were killed and seven injured.

In KwaZulu-Natal, a 25-year-old woman suffered severe injuries when a car hit her on the N2 in Winkelspruit. The woman had apparently dropped her bag while crossing the road and was hit by a vehicle when she went back to fetch it.

The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) said traffic volume on freeways had decreased by early yesterday. RTMC spokesperson Ashref Ismail said it was concerning that so many of the accidents were head-on collisions.

“Even in the most modern vehicle, the chances of surviving a head-on crash at speeds above 70 km/h are greatly reduced,” said Ismail. Given the death toll already, it was unlikely that the RTMC would be able to reach its target in reducing road fatalities, he said.

It had hoped to ensure that there were 25% fewer deaths this year, compared to the 1 771 people who died as a result of road accidents between December 1 2011 and January 10 2012.

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