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Johannesburg - A “major shift” is needed to address the high number of festive season road deaths, the DA said on Thursday.
“It is clear that the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) is largely ineffectual in stemming the annual tide of festive season road deaths,” Democratic Alliance transport spokesman Greg Krumbock said in a statement.
“A major shift is therefore needed in how we approach road safety.”
He was responding to Transport Minister Ben Martins' announcement earlier that 1465 people were killed in 1221 accidents recorded between December 1 and January 8.
Martins said about 40 percent of the deaths involved pedestrians. Most of them had walked onto roads while drunk.
Krumbock said the DA agreed with Martins that drivers' attitudes needed to change.
“This will require sustained, comprehensive road safety campaigns to be implemented at all levels of government.”
Provincial and local government needed to boost awareness through road safety campaigns, particularly in schools, he said.
“Such campaigns need to be waged on an ongoing basis in order to bring about behaviour changes necessary to keep people safe on the road.”
The Inkatha Freedom Party was shocked at the death toll, its safety spokesman Velaphi Ndlovu said in a statement.
“It seems like the festive season has turned South African roads into a war zone... Something drastic needs to be done about it now.”
He said the current road safety strategies were “obviously not working”.
“(The) IFP therefore calls on (Martins) to hold a National Road Safety Indaba, which must come up with drastic ways of putting an end to the wholesale slaughter of innocent people on our roads.”
Ndlovu said an indaba should also consider ways to protect motorists from drunk pedestrians, and what penalties these pedestrians could face if they survived road accidents.
“Until the situation can be reversed, the IFP re-iterates the call for a lifetime licence ban for all convicted drunk drivers. They simply cannot be allowed to destroy the lives of innocent people with such impunity,” he said. - Sapa