Road death toll reaches a grisly 1207

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IOL mot pic jan2 Road Deaths Picture: Ashref Ismail Ismail said most accidents were caused by reckless driving, dangerous overtaking, speeding and drunk driving. Picture: Ashref Ismail

The festive season death toll has reached a horrific 1207, Road Traffic Management Corporation spokesman Ashref Ismail said on Tuesday

Ismail said the 1207 people had been killed in accidents since the beginning of December. At least 18 had died in road accidents since New Year, traffic police said.

For 100 hours there were no reported accidents then two fatal accidents occurred in Mpumalanga and Port Elizabeth, Ismail said.

Five youths were killed when a bakkie, driven by a 15-year-old, overturned in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga.

“The teenager was unlicensed and was transporting about 13 other young people. Eight had minor injuries.”

In Port Elizabeth, a bus hit two pedestrians yesterday, killing them.

“We suspect speed and alcohol played a part in the accident. About 40 percent of road accidents recorded in SA are caused by pedestrians,” said Ismail. “Most of them drink and walk, and some just don't pay attention to the road.”

Ismail urged motorists to be extra vigilant about pedestrian crossings.

“Pedestrians should also exercise caution by not walking on freeways and by wearing reflective clothing when walking at night on the road,” he said.

Ismail said most accidents were caused by reckless driving, dangerous overtaking, speeding and drunk driving.

He said they were expecting a “higher than usual” increase in traffic on freeways and major roads fromWednesday, ahead of schools re-opening and people travelling back home after their holidays.

“We appeal to motorists to be patient, especially on toll roads where there will be long queues.

“I understand people are fed up, tired and are in a hurry to get home, but that's no excuse for disobeying traffic laws and risking the lives of others,” he said.

Ismail said drivers found guilty of drinking and driving, excessive speeding and reckless driving would be subjected to a re-test of both their learner's and driver's licences.

“This will put an end to criminal traffic activities such as the illegal buying of licences.”

“It's also a rehabilitation process for the drivers if they wish to continue driving. It will ensure competence and compliance with traffic laws,” Ismail said.

Barely two hours into the new year, two people died and three others were injured in a head-on collision in Pietermaritzburg, paramedics said on Tuesday.

When paramedics arrived on the scene they found the two vehicles badly damaged on Manning Road in Mountain Rise just outside of Pietermaritzburg.

“Two of the occupants were trapped inside the one vehicle and had already succumbed to their injuries.”

He said the Jaws of Life had to be used to extricate the dead from the vehicle. The three occupants from the other vehicle had sustained suspected neck and back injuries, several cuts and abrasions and possible broken bones, he said.

In other accidents on Tuesday, three people were killed when a bakkie they were travelling in rolled several times on the M13 in Johannesburg. Another person sustained serious injuries and had to be airlifted to hospital.

One more person was rushed to hospital with suspected neck and back injuries, and multiple cuts and abrasions.

Four people were killed when a delivery van collided with a cyclist in Krugersdorp, and three more were injured. One critically injured man was airlifted to hospital.

A 28-year-old woman was critically injured when a car overturned on the N2 between Shaka's Rock and Ballito. The woman, who was a passenger in a light delivery vehicle, had sustained critical injuries.

“ROAD PLAN HAS FAILED”

The transport department's plan to halve fatalities on South African roads by 2015 appears to be failing.

The death toll on South African roads this festive season is set to be the highest since the 2007/2008 holiday period, when a crisis plan was drafted to cut road deaths by 50 percent by 2015.

By late Tuesday, however, though, the death toll stood at 1207. This was even before the home run, with peak traffic expected on all the major roads from Wednesday as holidaymakers make their way home.

The 2011 death toll for the entire holiday season was 1078 on January 7.

In 2008, the Road Traffic Safety Management plan was announced - to slash fatalities from the high of the 2007/08 figures.

The death toll in December/January 2007 was 1261, dropping in 2008 to 1075, to 1094 in 2009 and to 1078 last year.

Transport minister Dikobe Ben Martins has admitted that there is a problem.

Now he is calling for “a serious and urgent need for a national dialogue about the current state of affairs regarding road fatalities. The situation is a cause for concern and calls for drastic interventions and a complete mind-shift on the part of those who use our roads.”

The department, he said, would unveil a new road safety pPartnership that would seek to forge a common national approach to the fight against road carnage. The partnership would include the government at all levels, state-owned companies, the private sector and civil society.

“Each individual needs to reflect on what their role is.”

While the government will continue enforcing the law and reviewing the current legislation where necessary, other sectors of society need to come to the party and play a role in dealing decisively with the challenge we face,” said Martins.

“We can only succeed if we get the necessary co-operation and support from the very same people whose lives we are trying to save: members of the public. We therefore call on road users, motorists, passengers and pedestrians alike to play their part in ensuring that we put a halt to any further loss of lives on our roads,” said Martins.

On the eve of the home run this week, the minister warned habitual road transgressors that their days of misbehaviour were numbered. He had instructed law enforcement officers to adopt a zero tolerance approach when dealing with offenders.

“Those who drive under the influence of alcohol and drugs must be locked up as they pose a danger not only to themselves, but to society as a whole.” - The Argus, The Star, Sapa



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