Confusion over Easter road statistics
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Johannesburg - Statistics on the road traffic arrests by the Johannesburg metro police department and its Ekurhuleni counterparts over the Easter weekend surpassed the preliminary numbers released nationally.
On Tuesday transport minister Dipuo Peters announced that 913 people were arrested for drunken driving and 502 held for speeding. However, JMPD spokesman Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said they had arrested a total of 928 people across Johannesburg over the weekend.
“Of the 928 arrests, 807 people were arrested for drunken driving and 121 for speeding,” he said.
Ekurhuleni metro police department spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Wilfred Kgasago said 189 people were arrested for drunk driving, with another 42 nabbed for speeding in Ekurhuleni between Thursday and Monday.
“Five of those 42 arrested for speeding were also found to have taken one glass too many,” he said.
One of the speedsters arrested in Ekurhuleni, Kgasago said, was a male driver in a BMW M5 who was “taking his son for a spin” on Monday morning.
“They were clocked at 182km/h on the N12 freeway in the Edenvale area.”
Road Traffic Management Corporation spokesman Simon Zwane said this was why the Department of Transport had called these figures preliminary.
“They’re not final, we’re still collecting more stats from across the country. You have to remember that Easter only ended yesterday, so we don’t have all the numbers yet,” he said.
Zwane added that there had been 24 deaths on Gauteng roads between Friday and Monday, which was down from 38 deaths in 2015.
Howard Dembovsky, national chairman of the Justice Project South Africa, said stats of this nature were “never accurate”.
“We must ask how accurate all the stats are, and what does the period March 24 to 28 mean? Where are we beginning and ending?” he asked.
Dembovsky said he was the first to acknowledge there had been a decline in road fatalities this Easter.
“But I hasten to add there is always a lower fatality rate when Easter falls before month end. When it falls after month end, socio-economic factors come into play where people tend to go away with money and decide to booze up, which leads to horrific crashes,” he explained.
Dembovsky added that South Africa urgently needed to know how many people were injured as well.
“What about those who are injured? They’re left in a precarious situation; it’s expensive, the length of hospitalisation and the fact that they’re taken out of their economic stability needs to be factored in.”
‘THE WORK IS FAR FROM OVER’
Earlier, Peters said 156 people were killed between Friday and Monday, down from last year’s death toll of 287.
“The 46 percent decline in road fatalities is welcome, but the work is far from over,” she told the media at the RTMC offices in Pretoria.
She attributed the decrease to the hard work by various role-players in the transport industry, especially law enforcement officers.
“With the exception of the Northern Cape which recorded the same number of fatalities as last year, all the other provinces recorded a decrease in the number fatalities.”
RTMC chief executive Makhosini Msibi said the fatalities were mainly attributed to unroadworthy vehicles, fatigue, and drunk driving.
“Most causes of accidents in terms of percentages were pedestrians and drivers.”
The Automobile Association said while the decrease in the number of road fatalities were encouraging, “they remain shockingly high”.
“We are concerned that they don’t present the full picture of what is happening on our roads,” said AA spokesman Layton Beard, adding the decrease could simply be “an anomaly”.
“Data on the intervening months is lacking, as are statistics that show annual fatalities.
“In fact, annual statistics have not been released since 2011, which makes it extremely difficult to gauge the success or failure of road safety interventions.”