Easter road fatalities decrease

2008-03-25 00:00

A massive effort by traffic authorities has led to a decline in the amount of fatal accidents recorded on KZN roads this Easter weekend.

While the final death toll will be released today, the Transport Department said that indications late yesterday were that the figures would not be higher than the 30 deaths recorded last year for the same period.

However, drunk drivers and taxi collisions gave the department cause for concern.

Traffic authorities took a dim view of drivers of public transport vehicles who disregard the lives of their passengers. This was after a minibus taxi with passengers was caught speeding at 146 km/h. The driver was arrested and granted bail of R1 000. He will appear in court today.

Zinhle Mngomezulu, spokeswoman for the department, pointed out that, although there were fewer accidents this year, there were almost as many fatalities as last year because the vehicles involved were mainly taxis and buses that were carrying passengers.

She said that three taxis had crashed after tyre bursts.

Meanwhile, a total of 49 321 drivers were breathalysed for alcohol use. Of these, 182 drivers were found to be over the limit and were arrested, with 50% of those arrested in the Pietermaritzburg area. Mngomezulu said 28 of those arrested were driving their taxis when they were nabbed, 16 of them in fully laden taxis in Pietermaritzburg.

Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC Bheki Cele expressed his disappointment at these figures, saying that KZN drivers were clearly not paying attention to safety messages.

By 10 am yesterday, the province’s death toll stood at 25, following a spate of accidents.

As the morning progressed, traffic counts on the N3 increased. Transport Department spokesperson, Zinhle Mngomezulu, said that 1 841 cars had been recorded per hour driving through the Marianhill Toll Plaza at 10 am. By 11 am these had peaked at 2 159. Late yesterday two more fatalities occurred in an accident at Mkuze.

A 24-year-old travelling at 202 km/h on the N3 early yesterday morning failed to stop when flagged down by the traffic authorities who gave chase from Cato Ridge and managed to stop him at Camperdown where he was arrested and given bail of R1 000. He is due to appear in court today.

The province’s top speed was recorded at 209 km/h.

A taxi driver from Gauteng was arrested after he was caught at 146 km/h during the early hours of yesterday morning at Ashburton, with 11 passengers on board.

Mngomezulu said that 6 949 traffic offences were recorded over the weekend — a significantly higher number than the 4 517 offences detected in the same period last year. In addition, a total of 41 597 heavy vehicles were pulled over by the Road Traffic Inspectorate. Twenty pedestrians were also arrested for walking on the freeway.

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