09/12/2012 Transport Minister, Ben Martins briefs the media on the details of the 2012 Festive Season Road Safety plans to be implemented throughout the country. Picture: Phill Magakoe

Clement Manyathela

Poor human behaviour is the largest contributor to the pool of accidents on South Africa’s roads.

This was the assertion of Transport Minister Ben Martins during the unveiling of the National Festive Road Safety Plan at Burgers Park hotel yesterday.

The minister urged all South Africans to take greater responsibility and help the government reduce the number of deaths on the country’s roads by observing rules.

“South Africans should ensure the highest consciousness with regard to road safety throughout the year,” he said, adding that it was impossible for traffic officers to adequately police the behaviour of motorists.

According to statistics, the human factor accounts for 82.2% of the causes of road accident fatalities, with vehicle factors accounting for 10.2 percent while the road conditions contribute the remaining 7.6 percent.

Discussing measures to deal with this situation, the minister said more emphasis would be placed on education, public awareness and compliance with the law.

As part of the 2012 campaign, the transport department has prioritised 20 national and provincial roads on which there have been many accidents in the past.

Other interventions will include compulsory rest stops which will be introduced along the national roads to encourage drivers to rest to avoid fatigue which is one of the human causes of road accidents.

He said unroadworthy vehicles would be removed from the road. Some of the critical agencies working with the transport department also unveiled plans to ensure road safety during the festive season.

The Cross Border Road Traffic Agency (CBRTA) plans to conduct inspections across provinces to ensure goods are transported safely.

Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) acting chief executive Collins Letswalo said they would ensure that roads were safe and also deal with motorist who broke the law.

He said all traffic offences would be targeted and warned motorists not to wait for the sight of blue-light vehicles to observe rules.

“We have unmarked vehicles which will be on the roads, so you might not see the blue light but will be stopped if found disregarding road rules.”

The festive season is known for claiming more lives, as more than 1 400 people were killed on the roads over the festive season last year.

Public transport accounts for a large number of deaths. This year taxi bosses are part of the campaign.

The president of the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco), July Msizo, urged drivers to avoid speeding and overloading.

Thousands of traffic officials will be deployed as holidaymakers head for their destinations. The minister said they were working closely with provinces, putting plans in place to enable traffic officers to work overtime.

He conceded that the task to ensure safety on roads during the festive season would be daunting and required participation from individuals and communities.

“Our success will depend on the role played by all stakeholders and the public, with government taking its leadership role.”

The minister was accompanied by his deputy, Sindisiwe Chikunga, and the director-general, George Mahlasela.