1068 dead on our roads: Here's why
Drivers changing lanes over solid white lines, children left unbuckled or standing between the two front seats and drivers changing lanes without indicating were just some of the transgressions spotted by a Cape Argus team during a return trip between Cape Town and Worcester on the N1 on Thursday.
But not everybody was disobeying the rules of the road. Most drivers on the N1 were driving responsibly.
Some of the drivers taking a break at petrol stations said the behaviour of their fellow drivers had been “surprisingly good”, others said they had noticed “inconsiderate behaviour”.
At least four drivers were seen changing lanes over a solid white line, including a small white truck that almost collided with another vehicle. Children in two vehicles were not in child-safety seats, with one seen standing between the two front seats.
FREE FLOWING TRAFFIC
Two drivers didn’t indicate when changing lanes. One pedestrian was seen running across the N1.
Traffic was free flowing for most of the trip and many motorists appeared to be driving cautiously.
Traffic officials were visible at several locations during the trip.
On the Garden Route on Thursday a raging fire caused traffic bedlam in the southern Cape, when traffic authorities were forced to close the N2.
The fire - in the Albertinia area, outside Mossel Bay - caused traffic jams, which some drivers said stretched for 10km, as people flocked to coastal towns such as Knysna and Plettenberg Bay for New Year’s celebrations.
Initially, traffic was diverted on to a dirt road north of the N2, but this was later closed when the fire spread.
Traffic was then diverted north through the Garcia Pass and the Klein Karoo and past Ladysmith, Calitzdorp and Oudtshoorn, before descending the Outeniqua Pass to return to the N2 - a 180km diversion..
At the time of going to press, the N2 was still closed at Albertinia.
Statistics released by the Road Traffic Management Corporation on Thursday revealed that 1068 people had died on the country’s roads between the start of December and Tuesday.
Drivers who spoke to the Cape Argus at petrol stations on the N1 all said they had done all the necessary pre-trip vehicle inspections.
They also said they took breaks as soon as they felt tired.
Rain Ndzeku, a shuttle service driver from Worcester, said most drivers had been “well behaved” during the holiday season.
NICE AND QUIET
Achmat Etalla from Grassy Park said he was driving home after spending a few days camping in Ceres.
He said the traffic had been “nice and quiet” and some drivers “give way when you want to pass”.
Etalla said the high death toll this year could be because of speeding and drinking and driving.
Alphonce Vogt from Worcester, who was on his way to Blackheath said he had done all the necessary pre-trip inspections on his vehicle.
“They don’t indicate and some people just turn in front of you.”
He said some drivers were inconsiderate. Vogt said alcohol and speeding could be among the main causes of collisions during the festive season.
Taxi driver Thando Xaba from Katlehong, who had arrived in Cape Town before Christmas and was returning home to Johannesburg on Thursday, said the road had been quiet for most of his trip.
“I saw one accident while on my way to Cape Town. I made sure that I got enough sleep along the way.”
Western Cape Traffic Chief Kenny Africa said the biggest concern on the province’s roads was fatigued drivers.
“Most accidents involve fatigued drivers - but we can get this number down if people co-operate and obey the rules of the road.”
He echoed the sentiment of RTMC spokesperson Ashref Ismail who said drivers who overtook illegally should be arrested.
“We will have a zero tolerance on those who overtake where you can’t.”
“We will arrest you and keep you in jail until the next court appearance.”
Ismail said the 1068 deaths were the result of 890 fatal crashes.
“The crashes are a result of poor driver behaviour and we will remove such drivers,” he said.
He warned that badly behaved drivers would have their licences taken away.
“The licence does not belong to you, it belongs to the state, and once you are convicted for bad driving you will have to go for a learners and driver’s test again,’’ Ismail said.
“CANNOT BE CONSIDERED NORMAL”
He said overloaded trailers, more commonly seen on long distance taxis, were areas of concern because they could lead to accidents.
The transport department said the high number of people killed on the roads since the beginning of the festive season was a cause for concern.
Transport minister Ben Martins said: “It cannot be considered normal that despite all efforts by government, private sector and civil society to enforce the rules of the road and raise awareness about road safety, we continue to witness the loss of lives on our roads at this scale.”
BetweenDecember 1 last year and January 10, 1771 fatalities were reported. The previous year, 1551 people had died in the same period.
A total of 2174 people were arrested for driving-related offences. More than half of the arrests - 1153 people - were for drunken driving.
Other reasons for arrest included incorrect taxi or public transport permits, reckless driving, excessive speeding and overcrowding. - Cape Argus