Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi. Picture: SIYABULELA DUDA
Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi. Picture: SIYABULELA DUDA

An audit of all vehicle testing centres and driver and learner testing centres is under way, to root out fraud and corruption as part of a broader bid to reduce road deaths.

Criminal prosecution is on the cards.

Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi told a briefing in Pretoria on Monday that the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) would work with the Special Investigating Unit to "intensify investigations into allegations of unlawful and improper conduct relating to the registration and licensing of motor vehicles together with irregularities in the issuing of driving licences".

Disclosing the festive season road traffic deaths and volumes‚ the minister said preliminary data for the period starting December 1 2017 to January 9 2018 showed that there were 1‚527 people who died on the roads in that period compared to 1‚714 fatalities in the same period the previous year. This represents a 11% decline‚ which surpassed the 10% target.

For the extended holiday period from December 1 to January 15‚ there were 1‚676 fatalities compared to 1‚875 fatalities for the same period in the previous year.

Noticeable declines were recorded in the number of fatalities in seven provinces, with the exception of the Western Cape and the North West, which recorded 7% and 11% increases respectively.

Limpopo was a star performer as it managed to achieve the highest reduction in the number of fatalities, followed by the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal.

Maswanganyi said an impressive 43% decline in fatalities was recorded on the top 13 identified hazardous routes, with 244 deaths recorded on these routes compared to 429 in the previous period.

However‚ there was a disturbing increase in the number of fatalities within the municipal boundaries of eThekwini‚ Johannesburg‚ Nkangala‚ Cape Town‚ Ekurhuleni‚ Ehlanzeni‚ Capricorn‚ City of Tshwane‚ Thabo Mofutsanyana district municipality and Bojanala Platinum district municipality.

The highest number of fatalities was among pedestrians, which increased from 34% to 37%. The minister noted: "A significant decline was noted among youthful pedestrians aged 25 to 34 years. But there was disturbing increase among those aged 35 to 44 years."

Fatalities among drivers increased from 23% to 27%. "While there was an increase in fatalities among youthful drivers between the ages of 25 and 34‚ there was an encouraging decline in the number of fatalities among drivers between the ages of 35 and 49‚" he said.

There was a decline in passenger fatalities from 41% to 35%, "which indicates that it is possible to save more lives if more people use safety belts"‚ the minister said.

Speed continued to be a major headache, with 922 drivers arrested compared to 785 in the 2016-17 period. Five motorists were arrested in Limpopo‚ Gauteng‚ KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape for driving at speeds exceeding 220km/h in a 120km/h zone.

Fewer motorists were arrested for drunken driving — from 5‚943 in the 2016-17 period to 3‚301 in the 2017-18 period.

Overall‚ in December 2017 there were 11‚028‚193 registered vehicles in the country compared to 10‚801‚558 in December 2016.

The number of driving licences issued had increased from 12‚163‚813 to 12‚658‚135 in the same period.