From the news desk

‘Easter road toll down from 2015’

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Motorists seem to have heeded officials’ calls to behave on the roads this Easter, and early indications are that transport minister Dipuo Peters could announce lower preliminary road crash and fatality statistics than in previous years.

Peters was scheduled to announce the preliminary statistics during a media briefing in Pretoria on Tuesday morning.

The total crashes for the same period in 2015 were 208, resulting in 287 fatalities. In 2014, there were 148 crashes and 193 fatalities during the Easter weekend.

Road Traffic Management Corporation spokesman Simon Zwane said road safety campaigns started long before the 2016 Easter break.

He said they were hopeful the majority of motorists got the message this time around.

Traffic cops on warpath in KZN

“The focus was on public transport, including taxis and other forms of mass transportation,” Zwane said. “All law enforcement stakeholders played a role in ensuring a safer Easter weekend on the country’s roads.

“There were no major accidents involving taxis or buses that claimed lives of many people at once. The focus was more on visible policing, with fewer major roadblocks than in the past.”

The busiest roads since the start of the Easter weekend were the N1 north through Pretoria, Polokwane and Beit Bridge, as well as N3 south towards Durban, and the N4 from Pretoria to Nelspruit and Komatipoort. The N1 from Mangaung to the Western Cape also carried heavy traffic.

After the rush to reach holiday destinations on Thursday, traffic into Gauteng peaked again on Monday afternoon.

Bakwena Platinum Corridor Concessionaire reported almost 3000 cars an hour entering Pretoria through its Pumulani and Carousel toll plazas.

Many holiday-makers returned a day earlier, with more than 2000 vehicles per hour recorded coming into Gauteng from KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo on Sunday afternoon.

Nationally, Zwane said more than 10 000 fines were issued to motorists for various traffic violations over the long weekend, as traffic authorities adopted a zero-tolerance stance.

The minister repeated the call on the weekend after the arrest of a prominent professional soccer star in Johannesburg, believed to be Orlando Pirates goalkeeper Brighton Mhlongo, for speeding and driving a car without registration.

Peters added drivers caught driving at high speeds should not be given an option for bail and should be named and shamed.

Zwane said they were concerned about the growing number of reckless driving patterns exhibited over the weekend, even though there were many drivers who adhered to the rules.

“Of the fines issued, most were for speeding and drunken driving,” he said. “Officials made 1500 arrests for drunken driving.

“Two traffic officers were also caught attempting to solicit bribes from motorists.”

KEEPING UP VIGILANCE

Zwane said all officers had remained committed to keeping up vigilance as the holiday period ended, and would not tolerate any traffic infringements. He said a clearer picture of whether or not the road safety campaigns bore fruits this holiday would emerge when the official statistics were announced by the minister.

Johan Pieterse, of Tshwane Emergency Services, said they handled 35 incidents in Pretoria, six of which were fatalities. Two pedestrians were killed on city roads. These figures were almost the same as those in 2015.

Tshwane Metro police spokesman Senior Superintendent Isaac Mahamba said co-operation with other law enforcement units led to a reduction in the number of crashes in the city.

Mahamba said speeding and alcohol abuse remained the top two contributing factors leading to crashes. Pedestrians also contributed to the toll, Mahamba said, adding they arrested 131 pedestrians and charged them for walking on the highway.

There were motorists nabbed for drunken driving and speeding, while a stolen vehicle was recovered and one motorist was arrested for attempted bribery.

Mahamba said Tshwane Metro police had issued 2812 traffic fines for various offences, including unroadworthy vehicles. He added that 6437 drivers were caught exceeding the speed limit.

In Limpopo, a motorist who was involved in a hit and run that left a traffic officer dead in Tzaneen on Sunday has been arrested. The 40-year-old traffic officer, attached to the Greater Tzaneen Municipality in the Mopani district, was hit by a speeding car while performing point duty at about 3.30pm on Sunday afternoon.

Meanwhile there was an unusual sight for passersby near the N1 in Hammanskraal when an aircraft made an emergency landing early on Monday. Neither of the two occupants of the aircraft was injured, Pieterse added.

[Source: Pretoria News]
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