A total of 235 people died on the roads during the Easter weekend, compared to 156 during the same period in 2016‚ officials said on Friday.

On Thursday, Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi said the 2017 figure was lower than the 333 deaths recorded during the Easter holiday period in 2015.

Releasing preliminary 2017 Easter road safety figures in Pretoria on Friday‚ Maswanganyi said all provinces‚ except the Free State recorded increases in fatalities during this period compared to the same period in 2016.

The Free State had eight deaths‚ compared to 11 last year.

"Very glaringly‚ most crashes and fatalities happened in residential areas and remote areas, and very interestingly, from 11pm until 5am‚" he said.

"This new phenomenon requires of us to spread our wings."

Road fatalities increased 51% despite the resolve by the  Transport Department and the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) to reduce road fatalities by 50%.

Maswanganyi said most accidents were as a result of “human error”.

 “Our preliminary report shows that many people who died on our roads were victims of hit and run incidents, jaywalking or motorists who were driving at speeds that were too high for circumstances,” Maswanganyi said.

He added that among road users who died, 24% were pedestrians, 19.8% were drivers and 5.7% were cyclists. Motor cars contributed to 49% of the fatalities while minibus taxis and buses made up 7.6% and 1.1% of fatalities respectively.

Deputy Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga conceded that there was little to celebrate in the statistics. She said the bus strike during the Easter weekend could have contributed to fatalities, as road users who would have taken a bus reverted to private cars and taxis.

 “I believe the bus strike contributed to this. It increased the number of private cars and taxis that were on our roads and travelled during Easter. These vehicles contributed to fatalities and crashes. The contribution of buses decreased this year,” said Chikunga.

TMG Digital, with Khulekani Magubane

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