Easter death toll rises

2013-04-08 14:16

The number of road fatalities during the Easter period increased to 241 this year, compared with 217 last year, Transport Minister Ben Martins has announced.

Driving under the influence of alcohol, reckless and negligent driving, failure to use seat belts and drunk pedestrians crossing roads on dangerous routes were among the reasons for the increase, Martins said.

The final tally could be higher as the police and traffic officials were yet to reconcile their numbers nationally.

Of the more than 250 000 vehicles that were stopped over Easter, 864 motorists were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, 1 024 vehicles were impounded and 1 039 vehicles had their licence discs suspended because they were unroadworthy.

“A significant number of fatalities happened at secondary roads and this was largely due to motorists failing to stop at the stop signs, or driving at excessive high speeds, pedestrians walking on the road under the influence of alcohol and failure of pedestrians to wear visible or reflective clothing,” said Martins.

“Initial trends indicate that pedestrians continue to be the main victims of the fatalities occurring on secondary road routes. A high percentage of the people who died on our roads were pedestrians. Many passengers also lost their lives because they do not use safety belts,” he added.

Martins bemoaned the fact that many motorists continued not to wear seat belts.

“Only 2% of passengers use safety belts compared with 60% of front-seat passengers,” said Martins, adding that in future, motorists would be fined for their passengers not wearing safety belts.

Martins stressed that the only way fatalities would decrease was if all South Africans took responsibility for their driving behaviour.

Martins said while the road safety campaigns were bearing fruit, they would be meaningless if motorists and passengers did not adhere to road rules.

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