SA drinks too much! Transport Minister slams booze culture during festive season road stats release

Transport Minister Sindi Chikunga during the release of the 2023/24 festive season road statistics at the N1 Grasmere Toll Plaza. Picture: GCIS

Transport Minister Sindi Chikunga during the release of the 2023/24 festive season road statistics at the N1 Grasmere Toll Plaza. Picture: GCIS

Published Jan 24, 2024


Transport Minister Sindi Chikunga has slammed South Africa’s drinking culture while releasing the preliminary report on the 2023/24 Festive Season Safety Campaign at the N1 Grasmere toll plaza.

Chikunga said the 2023/24 festive season period was confronted by heavy rainfall and storms, which created challenges on the road for motorists, while some drivers did not modify their speed in slippery and wet conditions, which resulted in avoidable crashes happening.

There were 1,184 fatal road crashes in the festive season of 2023/24 compared to 1,212 fatal crashes in 2022/23.

This represented a 2.3% decline in fatal road crashes, but Chikunga was incensed about South Africa's drinking culture, saying traffic officials were arresting people for drinking and driving at 7am midweek in some instances.

She said the fact that motorists were driving drunk was made worse by the fact that pedestrians were also walking drunk, leading to catastrophic outcomes in some instances.

“It's because of this abuse of alcohol where the majority of South Africans are drunk. It's like there's competition; there's no tomorrow.

“It's high time our churches, universities, and the media that we begin to talk about this. We cannot have a country where the majority of citizens are drunk Monday to Monday,” she said during an interview with eNCA.

Chikunga said mainly young black men between the ages of 25 and 44 were dying on the roads.

“The majority of people dying on our roads are young black Africans who come from tertiary institutions; they are breadwinners, and they die.

“The number of women arrested for drunk driving is also increasing. When I joined the department, it was 2%; now maybe it is 30 to 40%,” she said.

The report also showed that the majority of crashes took place between December 1 to 5, December 15 to 21, and December 22 to 28.

The peak time for a crash was between 8pm and 9pm, while Sundays had the most accidents.

“The 2023/24 festive period shows that human factors contributed 80.8% of the crashes, environmental factors contributed 10.4% as a result of heavy rainfall and storms, while vehicle factors contributed about 8%,” said Chikunga.

She said, from the deceased:

– Four in 10 were pedestrians

– Three in 10 passengers

– Almost one in four were drivers

– Just under 1% were cyclists.

“It must be noted that the majority of those who died were between the ages of 25 and 44; these, in the main, would have been young men.

“The number of fatal crashes for the 2023/24 festive season is 1 184, which represents a 2.3% decline compared to the 2022/23 festive season when 1 212 crashes were recorded,” she said.

The minister credited the decline in intensified operations by law enforcement.

She also said more than 1.4 million cars were stopped and checked in the period under review, and over 7,820 motorists were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, reckless driving, and producing false documentation.

By province, the Gauteng, KZN, Mpumalanga, and Western Cape provinces recorded increases in road crashes.

– Free State recorded a 27.4% decline

– Eastern Cape recorded a 21.5% decline

– Northern Cape recorded a 15.7% decline

– Limpopo an 8.4% decline

– North West recorded a 2.1% decline

– Gauteng recorded a 7.6% increase

– KZN recorded a 4.2% increase

– Mpumalanga recorded a 9.7% increase

– The Western Cape recorded a 22.6% increase.

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