From the news desk

SA festive roads prove deadlier than ever

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The number of people who have died on the country’s roads since the start of December is already higher than last year, Transport Minister Dipuo Peters said on Tuesday.

“There are 845 fatalities recorded since 1- 19 December 2016, with an increase of 17% in comparison to the previous year’s same period,” the minister said in a statement.

She said there was a 16% increase in fatal car crashes during this year’s festive period – with 684 deadly accidents recorded thus far.

Eighty two percent of the accidents were caused by human error. The remainder were a result of roads and environmental factors and problems with vehicles.

“Surprisingly pedestrians jaywalking accounts for 30.7%, speed accounts for 15.2%, hit and run … for 10.2% and overtaking … oncoming vehicles, 7.6%.”

More than three quarters of all accidents were caused by men, reported the minister.

“We have to do everything in our might to deal with the male stubborn and chauvinistic attitude.”

Dipuo, however, also condemned those female drivers causing carnage.

The number of accidents increased in every province except the Northern Cape which recorded a decrease of four accidents – as well as the Eastern Cape and Western Cape which have stabilised at the same number as in 2015 during the festive period.

Similarly, the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Northern Cape and Gauteng recorded lower fatality statistics.

All other provinces recorded more deaths on the road compared to this time last year. Limpopo and Mpumalanga have proved the most deadly in terms of increased deaths following from accidents. The number of fatalities in Limpopo increased by 63 and in Mpumalanga by 44.

Just under 40% of all those killed were passengers, followed by just over a third who were pedestrians, and lastly drivers.

Irresponsible

“It cannot and it should not be that 39.2% of the total fatalities is passengers who place their trust in the hands of drivers and yet never reached their destinations.

“We take exception and condemn in the strongest possible terms those who remain irresponsible and reckless on our roads,” said Peters.

As an immediate measure to curb the killings, Peters said that she noted that 24/7 operations needed to be better enforced – as did the impounding of un-roadworthy vehicles.

She said she would be speaking to provincial MECs to “consider extending overtime payment for remainder of the festive season as well as to ensure that our law enforcement officers are provided with appropriate tools of trade such as vehicles”.

In the longer term, Peters said the department was engaging with the justice department to introduce minimum sentences for negligent and reckless driving – as well as having drunken driving legally reclassified as a more serious offence.

Peters, ended by quoting former president Thabo Mbeki suggesting that “trying times need courage and resilience”.


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