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Cape Town - Thirteen people have died on the Western Cape’s roads in the past two weeks, with schools only set to break up next week and raising fears for the safety of road users, as thousands of people prepare for the festive season holidays.
There have been scores of injuries already, according to Metro EMS spokeswoman Keri Davids, who said 210 car accidents and 170 accidents involving pedestrians were reported between November 18 and Wednesday this week.
Three collisions between buses and cars were reported in just a single week during that period. Following the crash last weekend in which three matriculants died when their car collided with a bus in Strandfontein, on Thursday night four matriculants allegedly ploughed into a bus while test-driving a car in Pelican Park.
According to Golden Arrow spokeswoman Bronwen Dyke, the driver lost control of the vehicle and skidded for 50m, before colliding with the bus.
Yesterday morning a car rammed into the back of a bus on Vanguard Drive. The car’s driver had allegedly come from a nightshift and was half-asleep when he hit the parked bus. No deaths were reported in either of the incidents, but at least six people were injured in the collisions.
Provincial traffic chief Kenny Africa said it was time to acknowledge that the festive season had arrived, along with the dangers that came with it.
“Tragedies and accidents such as these have become an all-too-familiar part of the carnage of the festive season,” he said, adding that while they were headed into the season “in full force”, motorists had to play their part. “Each year we witness senseless deaths and accidents on our roads, especially around the festive season. We urge all motorists to take care and stay alert to make sure we keep the number of deaths as low as possible.”
Transport and Public Works MEC Robin Carlisle said another major concern was the increase in the number of motorcyclist deaths. While the death toll for road accidents had dropped by 28 percent over the past three years, the number of motorcycle-related deaths had risen by 11 percent.
“Over 200 motorcyclists have died on our roads in the past three years.
“In part this is due to the number of motorcycles, but too many motorists are not sufficiently alert to both cyclists and motorcyclists,” Carlisle said, cautioning that motorcyclists often travelled at excessive speeds.
Last year more than 1 556 people died on the country’s roads between December 1 and January 5. The Western Cape accounted for just over 10 percent of the deaths, with 163 people killed.
Richard Bosman, the city’s executive director of safety and security, said their festive season safety campaign had started on October 1 and would run until May 2 next year.
It would run in conjunction with the provincial traffic department’s campaign, which will begin on December 6, the day before provincial schools close for the year.
“The plan takes into account the closing of schools in the coming days, as well as the fact that the Western Cape, especially Cape Town, will be frequented by a significant number of visitors in the coming months.
“It also takes into account the large number of residents who travel by long-distance buses and minibus taxis to visit their families in other provinces, and the members of the Zionist Church who embark on their annual pilgrimage to Limpopo between December 22 and 24,” he said.
The focus would be on drunk drivers, speeders and fatigue management.
Africa said fatigue was a killer, and motorists needed to exercise caution.