Easter road death toll increases

Monday, April 8, 2013

Pretoria – Preliminary reports show that this year’s Easter weekend road death toll went up to 241, compared to last year’s figure of 217, Transport Minister Ben Martins said on Monday.

Briefing reporters about the preliminary reports from the South African Police Services (SAPS), Martins said a high percentage of the people who died on the roads were pedestrians.

“It is a regrettable and sad reality that this year’s preliminary road fatality figure is higher than that of last year (217) as a result of 181 fatal crashes. Many of these deaths occurred in villages, townships and other residential areas,” he said.

According to the minister, pedestrians continue to be the main victims of the fatalities occurring on secondary roads.

“Many passengers also lost their lives because they do not use safety belts. Only two percent of passengers use safety belts, compared to 60 percent of front seat passengers,” he said.

However, the minister said there was a discernible decrease in the number of crashes along the main arterial routes, adding that this could be attributed to increased visible law enforcement.

“A significant number of fatalities happened on secondary roads and this was largely due to motorists failing to stop at the stop signs, driving in excessive high speeds, pedestrians walking on the road under the influence of alcohol as well as failure of pedestrians to wear visible or reflective clothing at night,” he said.

Martins said human causes of road fatalities were mainly driving at high speeds, alcohol abuse, dangerous and reckless overtaking.

He said the department would continue to prioritise the construction of pedestrian bridges, sidewalks and speed calming measures such as speed humps and rumble strips in rural areas and townships.

Per hour, Martins said over 2 200 vehicles passed through the major arterial routes in Limpopo (N1), N3 in KwaZulu-Natal, N4 in Mpumalanga, R61 in the Eastern Cape, N2 to the Western Cape and N1 to Free State.

A total of 250 000 vehicles were stopped, resulting in the issuing of 79 056 notices, the suspension of the licence discs of 1 039 vehicles and impounding of 1024 vehicles.

He said 864 motorists were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, adding that approximately 600 of the motorists were arrested in the urban areas.

Over 1 500 were arrested for reckless and negligent driving, excessive speeding, lack of taxi/ public transport permits, false documentation and driving without licences.

The Easter weekend holiday period is notorious for a high number of accidents and fatalities as tens of thousands of people make their way to holiday destinations and members of the ZCC Church embark on their annual pilgrimage to Moria in Limpopo. - SAnews.gov.za