The government has been urged to further intensify road safety efforts after 1 427 people were killed, mostly at night, on South Africa’s roads during the holidays.
This was a 1.7% decrease compared with the previous year’s festive season which claimed 1 452 lives.
Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga released the 2023/24 road traffic statistics on Wednesday which covered the period December to January.
“Human factors contributed 80.8% of the crashes, environmental factors contributed 10.4% as a result of heavy rainfall and storms that had a big impact on road use, whereas vehicle factors contributed 8.8%,” said Chikunga.
The majority of those who died were pedestrians, followed by passengers, drivers and cyclists who were between the ages of 25 and 44.
Chikunga said a total of 1 184 crashes were recorded, down from the 1 212 incidents recorded in the previous festive season.
“This decline was made possible by the intensified law-enforcement operations conducted and the high police visibility throughout the country.
More than 1.4 million vehicles were stopped and checked in the period under review with 7 820 drivers arrested for among others driving under the influence of alcohol, inconsiderate and reckless driving, producing false documentation and excessive speeding.
“It is worth noting that the Eastern Cape is the only province that managed to surpass the target set for it to reduce fatalities by at least 18.6%.”
“In light of this, we will have to have serious engagements with authorities in the provinces,” she said.
Mobility MEC Ricardo Mackenzie said 56 people were killed on provincial roads and 108 on municipal roads.
“The reality is that our behaviour on the roads in South Africa is still deeply problematic and it has a devastating impact on our society. Despite our significant road safety efforts, we have a long way to go to turn the tide on poor road user behaviour,” he said.
The AA noted slight improvements, but stated this cannot be celebrated as the death toll was still high.
The association said more needed to be done to effectively deal with road safety in South Africa.
“We acknowledge the efforts of law enforcers to deal more effectively with road safety. But this number is still too high, and we should guard against viewing this as a victory. We reiterate our view that heightened law enforcement over a four-week period will not result in improved road safety when, for the other 48 weeks of the year, law enforcement is weak.
“Our call continues to be for the government to ensure more law enforcers are made available to police our country’s roads. In addition, more education and awareness campaigns must be initiated throughout the year to prioritise road safety,” said the AA.