File photo: Netcare 911 via Arrive Alive

Cape Town - Human error remains the number one cause of road fatalities in South Africa, contributing 89.5 percent to crashes on the country's roads over the Easter weekend, transport minister Blade Nzimande said on Tuesday.

During a media briefing in which he presented a preliminary report into Easter weekend deaths - between March 29 and April 9 - Nzimande revealed that 591 people died on the country's roads over Easter - up 14 percent from the 449 road deaths over the same period in 2017. 

Meanwhile, ER24 reported that its paramedics attended to 626 road traffic incidents during the same period, including motor, pedestrian, bicycle and motorcycle collisions - 81 more than the previous Easter weekend. The worst day was 29 March, with 131 call-outs.  

"In 2018, the human factor contributed 89.5 percent to the crashes," Nzimande said, "as compared to the 74.3 percent in 2017."

File Photo: Rescue Care Paramedics

Pedestrian fatalities increased from 33.8 percent to 37.3 percent while the number of drivers killed also climbed from 20.5 percent in 2017 to 25.6 percent in 2018.

"Passengers were the only user group that experienced a significant decline from 43 percent in 2017 to 35.5 percent this year."

The number of children under four and those aged between 50 and 54 also recorded a "sharp increase".

"Children under four years of age recorded an increase from 2.6 percent in 2017 to 7.5 percent in 2018. Middle aged individuals between the ages of 50 and 54 also recorded a sharp increase from 1.3 percent in 2017 to 8.4 percent in 2018."

The biggest increases in road deaths came from the Northern Cape, North West and Limpopo, while Mpumalanga and the Free State saw less fatalities.

The number of deaths per province were: 

KwaZulu-Natal - 11

Gauteng - 89 

Limpopo - 80

Eastern Cape - 59

Mpumalanga - 49 

Western Cape - 34

North West - 34

Free State - 27

Northern Cape - 27