File picture: Leon Knipe / Independent Media.
Cape Town – There has been a five percent increase in the death toll on the country’s roads during the festive season. 

Transport Minister Dipuo Peters on Tuesday announced that 1714 fatalities were recorded over the festive period.

However, the Western Cape bucked the trend, recording a six percent decrease in road deaths.

“Our traffic law enforcement officers conducted more than 432 roadblocks throughout the country during this festive season period and they issued 453 263 fines for various traffic offences,” Peters said. “Of particular interest is that 28 238 of these fines were for drivers who failed to wear seatbelts while 4046 were for using cellphones while driving.”

Peters said 6805 unroadworthy vehicles were suspended while 2501 other vehicles were impounded. To clamp down on offences, officers arrested 9175 motorists; 5943 for drunken driving.

“This year we have seen a high number of passengers dying on the roads compared to the previous period when pedestrians constituted a high number of fatalities among road user groups,” she said.

Peters said 40 percent of the fatalities were passengers, 34 percent were pedestrians, 24 percent were drivers and cyclists constituted two percent.

The Automobile Association’s Layton Beard said the increase in road deaths over the 2016/17 festive period is cause for great concern and points to the lack of a proper road safety strategy to deal with the carnage.

“On the surface, this increase may appear to be nominal, but the reality is that the number is neither stabilising nor, more importantly, coming down. More concerning is that the Department of Transport, and the minister, are saying the same things this year as they did last year, and the situation is not getting any better,” he said.

Peters said the festive season road safety programme is not implemented in isolation, but forms part of a programme that runs throughout the year.

Beard said despite the many road safety education and awareness campaigns, that the minister referenced in her speech as a success, there has been no impact on the death toll at all. “It is time that more drastic action is taken to address the situation.”

Cape Argus