The reduced road deaths this past Easter indicate that law enforcement efforts are yielding some positive results. Picture: REUTERS
The reduced road deaths this past Easter indicate that law enforcement efforts are yielding some positive results. Picture: REUTERS

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula has announced that 235 people died on SA’s roads over the recent Easter long-weekend, resulting from 189 crashes.

This was a 9.6% reduction from the 260 fatalities recorded over Easter 2019 and a 2.1% reduction from the 193 crashes. The 2020 figures weren’t taken into consideration due to it being an abnormal period when the hard lockdown restricted inter-provincial travel and movement between districts, he said.

Releasing the 2021 Easter Arrive Alive safety statistics at the N1 South Grasmere toll plaza on Thursday, Mbalula said the Northern Cape, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and North West recorded increases in fatalities, while declines were in recorded in the other five provinces.

Passenger fatalities declined from 38% to 34% as there were no major crashes involving five or more deaths in a single incident. Deaths among motor vehicle drivers and cyclists remained unchanged at about 30% and 1%, respectively.

“The figures for this past long-weekend indicate that our efforts in law enforcement are yielding some positive results. They also demonstrate that our messages are reaching the target audience and that the majority of road users are heeding our call to make road safety their personal responsibility,” said Mbalula.

He said it was concerning that pedestrian fatalities increased from 30% to 35% compared to 2019. About 6% of pedestrian fatal crashes occurred between midnight and 2am when people were moving around in violation of the Covid-19 curfew.

“Road crashes affect the poor and vulnerable more than any other group in society. It is this class of people we generally find walking on the freeways in an attempt to access opportunities that are not available in their residential areas,” he said.

Preliminary figures show there was an increase in traffic volumes along major arterial routes leading out of Gauteng and back. The N1 north to Limpopo, the N3 towards KwaZulu-Natal and the N4 towards Mpumalanga were particularly busy. This was despite the Easter weekend not overlapping with school holidays and religious pilgrimages to major churches that attract masses of people, due to Covid-19 restrictions.

“Naysayers have been quick to suggest that SA is at the bottom of the class for road safety. These suggestions have relied on limited data and questionable research methodology bringing into question the credibility of their findings. Others have been quick to point out empirical evidence that suggests we are far from the bottom of the class,” said Mbalula.

“I must, however, hasten [to add] that we are still a long way from where we want to be, but the strides we continue to make will undoubtedly yield tangible results. It is through collaboration with civil society and embracing behavioural change by road users that we will make a telling difference.

“Our relative success can be attributed to early preparation with education and awareness campaigns in communities, increased visibility of law enforcement officers, stakeholder involvement and a high-profile media campaign.”

He said 336 roadblocks were conducted this Easter, with 178,053 vehicles stopped and checked. There were 32,070 traffic fines issued, 823 vehicles were discontinued, and 782 impounded.

Other statistics included 438 motorists arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol; 112 motorists arrested for excessive speeding; 28 motorists arrested for inconsiderate driving; and two law enforcement officers — a traffic officer and a police captain — arrested for bribery and corruption.

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