Paramedics say a girl has died and five people injured when a bakkie crashed into the back of a stationary bakkie at the side of the N12, outside Witbank.

As the festive season, notorious for fatal crashes, approaches, it has emerged that 83 percent of front-seated people killed in car accidents lose their lives because passengers at the back do not wear seatbelts.

According to the Automobile Association, during a crash or collision, the unrestrained back passengers fly forward and collide with people in front, inflicting a mortal spinal column injury on the buckled-up front passenger.

The AA urged travellers to “be smart and buckle up – at the front and rear of the car” ahead of the notoriously deadly festive season.

Netcare 911 spokesman Jeffrey Wicks said front passengers getting killed because others at the back do not wear seatbelts was almost a daily occurrence.

“During an accident, a vehicle can roll or be hit from any side, so wearing a seatbelt is always recommended.

“The worst thing is when people not wearing seatbelts are thrown from the vehicle when it rolls,” he added.

According to the National Road Traffic Act Regulation 213, any person older than 14 or taller than 1.5m must wear a seatbelt, unless all seats fitted with seatbelts are occupied.

This, however, does not apply while reversing or moving out of a parking bay or area.

Children must wear appropriate child restraints.

If such restraints are unavailable, children must wear regular seatbelts.

Meanwhile, Tshwane metro police have warned motorists and corrupt traffic officials that they will deal with them harshly during this festive season.

This comes as they prepare to conduct roadblocks along the city’s hotspots that experience high numbers of road accidents.

The department launched its festive season road safety campaign on Friday on the N4 east of the city with a roadblock where traffic officials also interacted with motorists.

Acting metro police head Steve Ngobeni said the department would be harsh on both the motorists and officials who were paying or receiving bribes on the roads.

Ngobeni said the department had stocked up on breathalysers to ensure those driving under the influence of alcohol were arrested and prosecuted.

Certain roads which have proved over years to be notorious for accidents around the city include the R80/Mabopane highway and Moloto Road.

According to Ngobeni, his department has conducted a study of accidents across the city over the past few years, and they are confident about where traffic law enforcement is needed most.

“What we are saying is that road safety is the responsibility of both the officials and the motorists themselves. It is a mutual responsibility so that we can eliminate road deaths.

“We are appealing to motorists to stop drinking and driving and also to ensure that their vehicles are fit to be on the roads, or else they will be removed,” he said.

He said they would be working together with the SA Police Service and other law enforcement agencies to increase visibility on the roads.

“We have beautiful roads in this country and we are appealing to the public not to turn them into race courses. We have long adopted a zero-tolerance approach and we will deal harshly with anybody who endangers other road users,” he said.

Ngobeni noted they had deliberated, as management of the department, about the behaviour of officers who accepted bribes.

“We have spoken to members and they know that we do not condone the receiving of bribes by the metro police; they know that we will deal with them very harshly,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Road Traffic Management Corporation said on Sunday it expected heavy volumes of traffic on major routes following the closure of schools.

“Motorists are urged to obey all road traffic rules and regulations, to exercise patience at traffic operations and construction sites, and to be polite to other road users at all times,” said spokesman Ashref Ismail.

He also made a special appeal to motorists to look out for pedestrians on the roads, especially near settlements and urban areas.

“Pedestrians in turn, are requested not to jaywalk, drink and walk on the road, and are urged to wear clothes that make them visible at night,” he said.

Busy Routes

Among the main roads expected to carry heavier than usual traffic volumes are:

- N3 south: Johannesburg to Durban

- N1 north: Pretoria to Polokwane and onwards to Beitbridge

- N4 east: Pretoria-Mbombela- Komatipoort

- N4 west: Pretoria-Rustenburg- Mahikeng

- N1 south: Johannesburg- Bloemfontein (Mangaung)-Cape Town

- N2 north: Durban-Stanger

- N2 north: Mthatha-Kokstad

- N2 east: Cape Town-Garden Route

- N2 south: Mthatha-East London- Pretoria News