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Festive season road fatalities down 0.6%

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Road fatalities declined by 0.6 percent in the past festive season to 1368, Transport Minister Dipuo Peters said on Friday, expressing dissatisfaction with the high number of deaths.

“Though we half-heartedly acknowledge the decline, we have no cause to celebrate as our people continue to be killed on our roads due to irresponsible and murderous acts of fellow road users,” Peters told a media briefing in Cape Town.

She emphasised that she was “not happy with the statistics”, which saw 1147 fatal crashes between December 1 and January 5.

Peters said it was of grave concern that South Africans failed to obey traffic rules, to avoid drinking and driving, and to maintain their vehicles in a roadworthy condition.

“This is an indication that when we speak our people do not listen,” she said.

“Why are the people of South Africa not able to listen?”

A break-down of the figures showed that of those who died, 39 percent were passengers, 36 percent pedestrians, 24 percent drivers and one percent cyclists.

The highest number of fatalities occurred in KwaZulu-Natal.

Unlike during the same period the previous year, most fatal accidents –51 percent — happened over weekends and mostly at night.

The minister said this confirmed that alcohol abuse continued to play a significant role in road deaths and called on the hospitality industry to help change behaviour and get patrons home safely.

“Tavern owners and shebeens need to engage,” she said.

She said her department would undertake fact-finding missions to Australia and Sweden in the near future to “bench-mark tried and tested road safety methodologies”. SAPA

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