Zinzi Mandela and the minister for transport Sibusiso Ndebele at Nelson Mandela Foundation for the launch of the Pedestrian Safety Campaign. 110412. picture: Chris Collingridge 413
Zinzi Mandela and the minister for transport Sibusiso Ndebele at Nelson Mandela Foundation for the launch of the Pedestrian Safety Campaign. 110412. picture: Chris Collingridge 413

road deaths shock

By Time of article published Apr 12, 2012

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TOTALLY outrageous by any standard. Totally unacceptable.

This was the view of Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele as he released preliminary statistics revealing that 181 people died this Easter.

Speaking at the launch of the Think Pedestrian campaign at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory yesterday, Ndebele said while 181 was a reduction compared to last year’s 296, it was still a big number.

Limpopo led with 32 deaths followed by KwaZulu Natal with 30 while Mpumalanga recorded 25 deaths. The Northern Cape’s Easter deaths fatalities was the lowest at four.

Ndebele, who lost a son during Easter 18 years ago, said it was unacceptable for so many lives to be lost in four days.

“There are 181 funerals being held or still to be held because of Easter. This is totally outrageous by any standard. People are surrounded by candles at home as they prepare to bury their loved ones. Others are not at work as they had to put in leave to bury loved ones.”

It was important to find out which roads and provinces were where most people died, and why.

High speed, dangerous overtaking, fatigue, drinking and driving and tyre failure were major contributors to the accidents. The majority of pedestrian deaths, he said, were caused by people drinking and walking.

“That is a major issue because there is a predictability in driving. You know that the person walking on the side of the road will not always keep walking straight. So, this is a major contributor to pedestrian deaths.”

Besides the Easter deaths, Ndebele said the fact that about 40 deaths occurred on SA roads daily was a “terrible statistic”.

“You wake up in the morning and ask yourself ‘Who is it going to be this morning? Which 40 will it be?’ People wake up healthy in the morning and the next thing they are dead. Young fathers, young mothers... pillars of our society.”

Eqstra, a fleet management and logistics company, has joined the department to help reduce road deaths and injuries.

Managing director Murray Price said it was not an inability to drive that caused crashes but drivers’ behaviour and attitudes.

Murray said while statistics showed 40 percent of people who died on the roads were pedestrians, all people had the right to use the roads. Some did not have a choice but to walk.

Collins Letsoalo of Road Traffic Management Corporation said the Think Bike campaign was started a few years ago because bikers were also dying on the roads.

The reason, he said, was that motorists claimed they did not see them.

“Motorists refuse to accept that the road belongs to motorcylists, pedestrians and joggers. To them, those people are just a nuisance. ‘What are they doing here?’ they ask.”

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