Authorities can learn from huge drop in Easter road fatalities: AA
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Johannesburg - As had been expected, the significantly quieter roads under lockdown have led to a big drop in the number of road deaths recorded over the Easter period.
Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula announced on Friday that 28 people had died in 26 fatal accidents, between April 9 and 13, compared to 228 deaths during last year’s Easter period. Clearly the 70 percent reduction in road usage had a parallel impact on road carnage.
However, there are lessons that can be learned from these latest stats, and ones that should influence future road policies, the Automobile Association said in response to the latest road death figures.
“These figures show that better developed roads policies which seek to minimise traffic are effective in dealing with road carnage. Roads should be developed for people, not for vehicles,” the association commented.
It added that improved public transport and better infrastructure development (which accommodates pedestrians and cyclists) will lead to a reduction in the number of vehicles on public roads. Furthermore, public transport should not only be affordable and efficient, but it should also give commuters a pleasant experience that will encourage them to use it more often.
“Now is the time to make changes in terms of public transport, along with better developed roads which take all road users into consideration, not only vehicles. These numbers are a clear indication that such an approach has enormous positive consequences. Once our country returns to normal, these lessons cannot be forgotten; we need to learn and apply them to future planning,” the AA said.
The association also urged motorists to obey the rules of the road, even though they are quieter.
“Unfortunately there are some who believe they can do as they please in an abnormal situation such as we are currently experiencing.
“We are grateful that our law enforcers are still performing their duties during this difficult time, and it’s exactly during this period that people should be extra vigilant when on the roads,” says the AA concluded.
On that note, the Transport Minister said that the reduced traffic volumes during the Easter period did have a corresponding effect on the number of traffic violations.
Just 11 drivers were arrested for drunken driving, while one was caught speeding. This is in sharp contrast with 807 arrested for drunken driving and 192 for speeding in 2019.
However, the Minister admitted that any attempt to compare year-on-year figures would be an exercise in futility as the material conditions this Easter are fundamentally different from a normal period where traffic is able to move freely.