File picture: Supplied.

Johannesburg - The reduction in the number of road fatalities over the 2017/2018 holiday period is encouraging, says the Automobile Association, but it is concerned about the increase in the number of young people and pedestrians killed on the country’s roads.

The official festive season road fatality statistics released by the ministry of transport on Monday showed that 1676 people died on South Africa’s roads from 1 December 2017 to 15 January 2018, compared to 1875 during the same period last year.

Very important, the AA’s Layton Beard pointed out, is the 43 percent reduction in fatalities on 13 of the country’s most dangerous roads. The AA believes this is due to the increase in visible policing on these routes - and it must be implemented in other areas.

“It’s critical that the 24/7 shift system for traffic officers is introduced sooner rather than later,” Beard said. “With more traffic officers on our roads day and night, we believe these reduced numbers can be sustained, and even improved on.”

'More needs to be done'

“These numbers are promising,” the AA said, “but much, much more needs to be done to ensure our road deaths are reduced even further.”

“We agree that more needs to be done to educate young people about pedestrian safety, and we’re going to continue our Walk Safe campaign in primary schools, as well as our pedestrian visibility campaign, as part of our contribution.”

Also important, said the AA, was the reduction in the number of people stopped for drunk driving, not wearing seatbelts, or for reckless and negligent driving.

“This points to a change of attitude among drivers - and that’s the most important element of road safety,” Beard said. “Bad driving behaviour needs to become socially unacceptable, and we’re hopeful that these numbers mean this is beginning to happen.

“We’re hoping to see similar reduced statistics over the upcoming Easter period - and continued reductions year on year, with improved driving behaviour among all road users.”

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