Western Cape road death toll soars

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Copy of ca pg7 Leeu Gamka Accident 1 DONE (30766022) EWN / Graeme Raubenheimer A fatal accident that happened in Prince Albert. Picture: EWN/Graeme Raubenheimer

There have been 89 deaths on the province’s roads since the start of December – a 35 percent increase from last year where 66 people had died, according to MEC for Transport and Public Works Robin Carlisle.

Carlisle said yesterday that of the 89 fatalities, 37 had been passengers, 31 pedestrians, 16 drivers, three motorcyclists and two cyclists.

He said that police conducting roadblocks throughout the province had found that 65 percent of drivers were not buckled up, while 83 percent of back seat passengers were also not buckled up.

Carlisle said: “These figures are very alarming. Last year, at this time, 17 passengers had been killed on our roads compared to 37 this year, a very worrying 122 percent increase.

“Lives are now being lost on our roads at a rate of five people a day, and will continue to do so if some drivers persist with treating the rules of the road with such serious disregard, and fail to buckle themselves and their increasingly vulnerable passengers up.”

He said that two people died in a head-on collision on the N1 near Laingsburg while a pedestrian was knocked over and died in Pacaltsdorp yesterday morning.

Carlisle said they would continue with their controversial “fatigue management programme” where they pulled drivers off the road and forced them to rest if traffic officers thought they (drivers) were fatigued.

“We will happily face any court cases in this regard,” he said. He knew it was difficult to measure how fatigued people were but that traffic officers “will have to make a judgement”.

“I know there has been a lot of controversy around this point but I know if we didn’t pursue this point, they’d be a lot more people dead,” Carlisle said.

Provincial traffic chief Kenny Africa said they had stopped nearly 800 cars since December 6 and 57 people had been asked to park their cars for at least two hours to recover. Africa said: “There was not even one of them (drivers) that resisted. People are glad we are doing this.”

He explained that they had started applying the programme more widely after their success with taxis.

He said that since they began forcing taxi drivers, especially long-distance taxis, to rest for at least two hours before continuing their journey “we have managed to stop 17 220 vehicles and 2 571 taxis have been parked”. -Cape Argus

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