Cowboy drivers blamed for festive season roads carnage

2011-01-08 20:45

Reckless, negligent South African ­motorists should shoulder the blame for the 1 133 accidents in which more than 1 300 people were killed despite government’s biggest-yet festive season ­safety drive.

Transport ministry spokesperson ­Logan Maistry said an analysis of fatal road accidents showed that almost 90% were preceded by a traffic violation.
“The carnage on our roads will be ­reduced if motorists simply obey all road traffic rules,” said Maistry.

Excessive speed, tyre failure, fatigue, drinking and driving or drinking and walking caused road deaths, said ­Maistry.

A total of 1 358 people died on South Africa’s roads between December 1 last year and January 4 this year.

Last year saw 1 548 deaths in 1 204 fatal crashes during the same period.

They died despite the fact that:

» Law enforcement officers checked more than 4 429 000 vehicles and ­drivers since October last year, exceeding the million-a-month target ­announced by Transport Minister ­Sibusiso Ndebele last year as part of the road safety campaign and the national rolling enforcement plan (NREP);

More than two million fines were ­issued for driver and vehicle fitness ­offences;

More than 7 000 drivers were arrested for drinking and driving, reckless and negligent driving, excessive speed, overloading of public passenger transport vehicles, fraudulent documentation, stolen items and bribery; and

More than 26 000 vehicles were ­impounded for being grossly ­unroadworthy or not having the correct public transport licences.

Ashref Ismail, senior management ­enforcement coordinator at the Road Transport Management Corporation, said the road death toll during the festive season remained high ­because the NREP had been in operation for only a few months.

About 12 to 18 months were needed “to eliminate its weaknesses and strengthen its strengths”.

People, he said, “have not begun to feel the heat of government’s hard-hitting enforcement operations”.

Between 75% and 80% of road users were law-abiding people, he said.

“It’s only 20% to 25% that gives us the ­biggest headaches. And we are going to stop them.

They are going to be fined or prosecuted if they break the law.” 

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