Road users urged to be cautious over Easter Weekend

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has called on road users to exercise caution as law enforcement prepares to man routes over the upcoming Easter weekend.

Traditionally, busy routes during this period include the N1 from Gauteng to Limpopo, the N3 from Gauteng to KwaZulu-Natal, the N2 from the Western Cape to Eastern Cape, the N14 from Gauteng to the North West and the N12.

Launching the 2022 Easter Road Safety campaign on the N12 in Breswol on Tuesday, the Minister said this period “requires of us to skillfully deploy resources… if we are to succeed in arresting [road] carnage”.  

He said a reduction in road fatalities should be driven by innovative solutions that result in behavioural change.

“Others will be crossing our land borders to neighbouring states to spend time with families and loved ones. Some will be crossing provincial boundaries to visit families and taking a much-needed break from work and institutions of learning in the cities.

“During this period, members of the South African Police Service, National Traffic Police, provincial traffic officers and municipal traffic officers will enforce the law,” said Mbalula.

The Minister said the campaign’s focus will be on safety belts, roadworthiness of vehicles, fatigue, drunk driving, pedestrian safety and dangerous driving (speeding, recklessness and overtaking on barrier lines).

Mbalula said government is cognisant that the upcoming Easter weekend will be challenging, with an increase in traffic volumes.

In January and February this year, 1 823 people lost their lives on South African roads. This was higher compared to the 1 521 fatalities in the same period in 2021.

Over the last five years, KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and Limpopo accounted for the highest number of fatalities compared to other provinces.

“All provinces experienced spikes in fatalities in the first two months of the year, with Gauteng leading with 355 deaths, followed by KZN with 269, Western Cape 249, Limpopo 239 and Eastern Cape 232.

“The North West recorded 170 fatalities, Mpumalanga 158, Free State 96 and Northern Cape 66,” said Mbalula.

The leading causes of fatal crashes in the two-month period were accidents with pedestrians, followed by single vehicle overturning, hit and run and head-on collisions. Drunk driving is suspected to be an underlying factor in the hit and run and overturning of single vehicles.

Since then, Mbalula said government had conducted 147 “Phuza (drinking) Weekend” operations, resulting in 483 arrests.

“This campaign will be strengthened over the coming Easter long weekend, right through to the May Day long weekend ending on May 2.”

When the Minister released the January statistics in February, the Ministry committed to intensify law enforcement operations focused on drunk driving.

“We specifically pronounced our zero tolerance for ‘phuza Thursdays’.

“I am pleased with the strides that the provinces of Gauteng and Mpumalanga have taken to introduce a 24/7 shift system for traffic officers in their respective provinces. This will assist in improving visibility of traffic officers on the roads at all hours of the day.”

Expiry of driving licences 

The Minister warned drivers with expired licences of the final opportunity provided by the current regulations, which extends the grace period by 30 days from the date of the end of the state of disaster.

“This means affected motorists have until 5 May 2022 to renew their expired driving licence cards.

“We continue to urge those whose driving licence cards expired between 26 March 2020 and 31 August 2021 to renew their licences. The end of the state of disaster means we can no longer issue Directions that further extend the grace period,” he said. –