KZN records most road deaths

2012-01-17 00:00

KWAZULU-NATAL has once again recorded the highest number of road deaths during the festive season, exceeding last year’s figures. The KZN toll was 256 people from December 1 to January 10.

Last year 248 were killed. KZN was followed by Gauteng at 207 and the Eastern Cape with 156.

Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele said yesterday 1 475 people were killed countrywide. Preliminary figures from the Road Traffic Management Corporation show there were 1 230 fatal crashes.

In 2010/2011, the number of fatalities eventually totaled 1 704.

Provincial Transport spokesperson Kwanele Ncalane said the message of road safety was barely heeded and traffic officers dealt with numerous violations such as drinking and speeding.

He said the death toll did not mean that KwaZulu-Natal drivers were the most reckless, as many people come here for holidays.

Ncalane said: “It is also a corridor to the other provinces such as Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape, which therefore increases the traffic. We also have a problem of speeding, we arrested about 250 people for that offence.

“There is also a problem with the excessive abuse of alcohol, which often leads to the death of many pedestrians.”

Ncalane said that public transport was still a major concern as it killed people in numbers.

Ndebele also cited alcohol abuse as one of the causes of accidents.

“The most common causes of the crashes during the 2011/12 festive period include speeding in unfriendly weather conditions, reckless and inconsiderate driving, and abuse of alcohol by drivers and pedestrians.

“The non-wearing of seatbelts has been found to be a major contributor to fatalities or serious injuries. Emergency services personnel can testify that far too many people have been killed due to not buckling up,” he said.

Other contributors included fatigue, especially among public passenger transport drivers, lack of vehicle fitness, and pedestrian negligence.

Said Ndebele: “A great deal of work must still be done, in line with the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety. Key to this campaign is the critical pillars of safer roads, safer vehicles and safer road users.”

Ndebele said from December 1 to January 8, more than 1,5 million vehicles and drivers were stopped and checked and 526 735 fines were issued for various offences. A total of 6 084 unroadworthy vehicles were discontinued from use.

Officers arrested 13 439 drivers for offences including not being in possession of valid driving licences, false documentation, drunk driving and reckless or negligent driving. Automobile Association spokesperson Gary Ronald said the final figure, expected to be released in a month, “could very well exceed that of last year’s 1 704 fatalities”.

“We are devastated at the high death toll as it shows that the government is not taking proper action to keep the public safe on the roads. The question we are asking is what did not happen last year and, more importantly, how to change that in 2012,” he said.

The SA National Taxi Council said the behaviour of public transport drivers, especially taxi drivers, had improved significantly.

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