Grim toll: Huge increase in SA road deaths

Johannesburg - The 2015/16 festive season saw a large increase in the number of road fatalities as well as crashes.

Speaking to the media on Tuesday (January 12 2016), Transport Minister Dipuo Peters expressed her concern over the high number of fatalities on the road due to reckless drivers.

From Dec 1 2015 to January 11 2016 the Department of Transport (DoT) reports 1387 fatal crashes on the road and road fatalities increased by 220 (14%) from 1535 over the same period in the previous year to 1755.

The DoT said: "That represents 11% increase compared to 2014 where 1253 crashes were recorded."

Increase in road deaths

The only province to show a decline in road fatalities was KwaZulu-Natal with a 2% decrease in road fatalities.

The Western Cape recorded the highest percentage (33%) increase with the number of fatalities increasing from 122 to 162, followed by North West at 26% or 136 fatalities (up from 108).

Number of fatalities per province: Dec 1 2015 to Jan 11 2016

KwaZulu-Natal – 302
Eastern Cape – 278
Gauteng – 271
Limpopo – 208
Mpumalanga – 184
Western Cape – 162
Free State – 157
North West – 136
Northern Cape - 57

What do you think is the answer to reducing road deaths in SA? Email us and we'll publish your thoughts.

Traffic fines for passengers not wearing seat belts?

According to Peters one of the things that should be looked at to make sure people are more safe on the road is to introduce a regulation that drivers and passengers should be fined for not wearing safety belts.

Peters said: "Texting and driving is also a major concern."

Peters also said that some people also tend to spend more money on sound systems for their vehicles than on the safety of the vehicle.

Peters said: "Every car with a child under the age of 3 should have a seat for the child in the back."

She also expressed her disappointment towards some traffic officers who were caught on the wrong side of the law. Two officers from the North West and one from Gauteng  were caught soliciting bribes.

Other SA holiday season statistics: By the department

• 1.7-million vehicles were pulled over and checked.

• More than 6000 motorists were arrested for driving under the influence.

• 808 people were arrested for excessive speeding.

• 5710 vehicles were impounded for being unroadworthy.

• 17% of the fatalities were drivers between the ages of 25 and 34 while 8.8% were drivers aged between 20 and 24.

• 4.4% of the passengers that lost their lives were between the ages of 0 and 4 while 14.6% of passengers were aged between 25 and 29.

• Small vehicles accounted for 47.9% of total crashes while light delivery vehicles accounted for 22.7%. Mini-busses and combis accounted for 10.1% and trucks for 4.8%.

• 81.4% of fatalities have been attributed to Black people while the remaining 18.6% can be attributed to Coloureds, Whites, Asians and foreigners.

• Most fatal crashes occurred on Fridays (18.8%), Saturdays (22.2%) and Sundays (16.9%).

• The gender mostly affected were males who contributed to 74.4% of the fatalities while females contributed to 25.2%. 0.4 % of people were burnt beyond recognition and their genders could not be identified.

• 38.3% of those who died were passengers, followed by pedestrians at 34.9%. Drivers contributed 23.9% of the fatalities and cyclist 2.8%.

• Registered vehicles increased by 340 000 from the previous year while 508 054 new driver's licences were issued.

• RTMC also feels that more emphasis should be put on how traffic offenses are handled - they should be treated more seriously in order for offenders to not get off easy.

• Peters said: "It is the responsibility off the driver, the passenger and the pedestrian to adhere to the rules. The rules are there. They just need to be obeyed.

Arrive Alive responds:

Arrive Alive editor, Johan Jonck, said: "It is with deep concern that we are busy analysing the data as it comes through. Even though we did not expect a significant decline in road deaths, we hoped that authorities, with increased enforcement, have managed to curb road death figures.

"It is clear from the data that safer roads cannot be created with a simple flick of a switch. Motorists do not suddenly become good or bad overnight... years of poor driving behaviour will take years to rectify. We can speed-up the process through effective enforcement and a meticulous drilling down of data. Initiatives will need to be 24/7 all through the year and we need to increase all the strategies required to make roads safer, less talk and more urgent action is required!”

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