Cape Town - When Randall Wilson passed three accident scenes on his way back home from Johannesburg on Monday, it brought back painful memories of his brother’s fatal accident on an East London highway a year ago.
The Milnerton resident stopped for ice cream at a petrol station a few kilometres from Paarl’s Huguenot Tunnel.
“On my trip to Cape Town, the road was very quiet today, with no roadblocks and no accidents.
“There were not a lot of cars on the road and that’s why we left Johannesburg and Colesberg today to avoid the peak traffic of Christmas,” said Wilson.
Wilson’s brother Allistair, an air traffic controller at the Cape Town International Airport at the time, had been sent to East London to help with air traffic control during Nelson Mandela’s funeral.
“He worked at East London airport for about five days. On returning to Cape Town, his colleague was driving his new car. The colleague lost control of the car and slammed it into a tree. The colleague only broke his legs.”
Wilson was one of hundreds travelling long distances to and from Cape Town on Monday. Long-distance taxi driver Jack Atkins of Kraaifontein said motorists usually behaved with intolerance towards taxis, buses and big trucks.
The worst accident scene he had driven past this festive season involved one in which a young couple and their child died on Christmas Day on the N1 near Century City.
“On our route you still find some long-distance taxi drivers who pack heavy luggage with passengers in their taxis,” he said. “That’s dangerous because the luggage should be packed in a trailer provided for that purpose. The roadworthiness of some of the taxis is questionable.”
On Monday Western Cape transport MEC Donald Grant said there had been 113 road deaths in the province since 1 December, compared to last year’s 123 fatalities in the corresponding period. The deaths involved pedestrians, motorcyclists, cyclists, drivers and passengers.
DECLINE IN ROAD DEATHS
“Road deaths are down eight percent this year,” he said, “compared to the same period last year, with pedestrian deaths accounting for the bulk of the deaths.
“We can see that deaths remain lower this festive season than they have been in the past, despite last weekend’s horror crash on the N1 that claimed 10 lives.”
He said his department continued to target speeding, alcohol-related offences and fatigue management. Other initiatives include a pedestrian safety campaign, a seat-belt awareness campaign and speed-over-distance cameras.
“We are making sure over the festive season that we are as visible as possible and there to prevent accidents. We are confident that our collective efforts will save more lives.
“However, the 113 lives we have lost already on our roads this festive season are 113 lives too many,” said Grant.
Transport minister Dipuo Peters also reported the decline in road deaths.
“The 2014 crashes are 539, resulting in 677 fatalities, while last year we had 764 crashes resulting in 917 fatalities,” she said.
“This indicates a 35 percent reduction in fatalities and a 42 percent reduction in road crashes compared to the same period last year.”