Easter death toll drops

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Pretoria - Preliminary figures released by traffic authorities on Thursday have shown a significant drop in the number fatal accidents on South Africa's roads during the past Easter weekend.

At least 105 people lost their lives on the country's roads from Thursday 1 April to Monday 5 April. The figure is down by 42 as compared to the 147 people who died in road crashes during the same period last year. Health Deputy Minister Molefi Sefularo is among those who lost their lives when his car crashed on the N4 between Hartbeespoortdam and Pretoria on Monday.

Road Traffic Management Corporation Acting CEO, Collins Letsoalo, said while the significant decrease in fatalities should be hailed as a success, "one death from an accident is one too many".

"A lot more still needs to be done. For as long as people are dying needlessly and senselessly on our roads, we have to accelerate our attempts at trying to find solutions," he said.

Letsoalo attributed the drop in road deaths to several law enforcement operations by provincial traffic authorities. There were 72 roadblocks around the country with authorities stopping more than 120 00 vehicles. More than 215 of those vehicles were suspended for being unroadworthy and 146 of them were public transport vehicles. At least 654 motorists were arrested, 554 for drunk driving while 11 were nabbed for speeding.

Letsoalo said the visibility of traffic officials at critical routes played a major role in monitoring the behaviour of motorists. He said the results of this were more visible in the Eastern Cape where authorities arrested 330 drivers for drunk driving. A number of drivers were caught driving in excess of 180 km/h in a 120 km/h zone in Mpumalanga, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and North West.

"We need find solutions that extend beyond just that of enforcement. We need to find solutions that start at young impressionable ages and ensure that the culture of road safety is embedded in the values and psyche of our road users," Letsoalo said.

He said in partnership with the education department, a number of initiatives were being mooted to extend road safety to schools as part of life orientation.

Community Road Safety Councils are also being established in all municipalities where communities will take ownership of road safety challenges and solutions.

"Our responsibility is to ensure that we work as team South Africa to change our mindsets from a road safety point of view so that road traffic fatalities are not seen as common occurrence over which we have become accustomed to," said Letsoalo.