Mbalula admits he’s far from reaching target of reducing road deaths by 20% this festive
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Johannesburg - Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has urged all road users to exercise extreme caution during the holiday season peak travel period after almost 700 people perished on the roads in the first 20 days of this month.
At the beginning of the month, Mbalula said that the Department of Transport was aiming to achieve a 20% target to reduce fatalities this festive season as part of the Arrive Alive 365-days, 24/7 campaign.
“Road safety is a collective responsibility. Government, civil society and road users must all play their part to preserve human life on the road. Targets are meaningless if we do not bring to bear our collective effort to make our roads safer,” he said.
South Africa is currently in a peaktravel period with traffic volumes spiking from yesterday until tomorrow and again on December 31.
The final spike is expected on January 3 and January 10 as many people will be making their way back to major cities, ahead of the reopening of industries and schools.
On December 9, two people died in a fire resulting from a collision between a truck and two light motor vehicles on the N1, near the Allandale off-ramp, in Midrand.
ER24 spokesperson Ross Campbell said the drivers of both the light motor vehicles were badly burnt in the incident and declared dead on the scene by ER24 and another private service.
The driver of the truck, a man in his 40s, managed to escape with minor injuries. He was treated and transported to a hospital in the area. Both north and southbound lanes were closed to traffic at one point during the incident.
Mbalula and Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) chief executive, advocate Makhosini Msibi, released the 2020 Festive Season Preliminary Road Fatality Statistics where it was revealed that South African roads were busy during the first peak period between December 18 and 19, despite the prevalence of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mbalula announced that about 109 529 motorists were issued with traffic fines for various offences and about 2 415 vehicles were discontinued, while another 1 801 vehicles were impounded.
A total of 2 111 motorists were arrested for various offences with 896 held for drunken driving, 336 for speeding and 588 warrants of arrests for outstanding traffic fines were served.
Mbalula said the highest speedster was caught travelling at 242km/h on the N1, near Ventersburg, in the Free State.
“Saving life and limb on the road starts with each one of us. Speaking up and calling out our friends and relatives, when they conduct themselves in an irresponsible manner on the road, is the start of an effective behavioural change,” he said.
From December 1 to 20, about 690 people lost their lives on the country’s roads, which represented a 5.7% decline compared with 732 over the same period last year.
“One life lost on our roads, is one life too many. Equally, the total number of crashes has declined by 8% compared to the same period last year,” Mbalula said.
He added that these fatalities that could have been avoided, further amplified the pain of those whose loved ones have succumbed to Covid-19 while other relatives perished on our roads.
Overall, there were six provinces that recorded a decline in fatalities compared with last year.
Northern Cape recorded a decline of 23.5% with 13 fatalities compared to 17 last year, Western Cape recorded a decline of 26.6% with 69 fatalities compared to 94 in 2019, Free State recorded a decline of 28.8% with 47 fatalities compared to 66 in 2019, Gauteng recorded an 18.7% decline with 122 fatalities compared to 150 in 2019, North West recorded a 5.8% decline with 49 fatalities compared to 52 in 2019 and KwaZulu-Natal recorded a 3% decline with 131 fatalities compared to 135 in 2019.
The Eastern Cape recorded a 21.5% increase with 96 fatalities compared to 79 last year, Limpopo recorded an 18.4% increase with 90 fatalities compared to 76 in 2019 and Mpumalanga recorded a 15.9% increase, with 73 fatalities compared to 63 last year.
“While it is encouraging to see a decline in fatalities to date, we are still a long way from achieving the 20% target we have set for ourselves this year.
“I urge all road users to exercise extreme caution as we enter the second phase of our peak travel period,” the minister said.