Plans in place to ensure safer roads this festive season

In an effort to ensure that South African roads are safe this festive season, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula says extensive planning has gone into preparations for this period.

Addressing the launch of the Festive Season Safety Campaign at Caleb Motshabi, Mangaung, the Minister said in-depth analysis of road crash patterns have been undertaken to identify high crash zones to allow for targeted, informed deployment of resources.

“Our plan seeks to enhance co-ordination, integration and improved law enforcement and road traffic safety awareness and education activities for maximum results. It also encompasses the notion of road safety being everybody’s responsibility by strengthening collaboration among organs of state and civil society,” Mbalula said on Monday.

Preliminary festive season road safety statistics indicate that government’s plan is solid and likely to yield the desired results.

“The country has experienced a marked decline in fatal crashes in the first eight days of the festive season, between 1 December 2021 to 8 December 2021, compared to the same period the previous year.

“Early indications show that there has been a 26.8% decline in the number of fatal crashes over this period, year-on-year. This means that 210 crashes have so far been reported compared to 287 in the same period last year,” the Minister said.

The number of fatalities have also declined by 22,3%, resulting in 268 deaths on the road so far this year compared to 345 in the same period last year.

“The road traffic law enforcement machinery is now in full swing to serve and protect all road users, especially pedestrians, as a key focal point. Statistics from the previous festive season campaigns show that pedestrians are the most vulnerable road user group in South Africa.”

According to statistics, 41% of fatalities on South African roads are of pedestrians.

“This reality calls for increased efforts to improve the safety of this vulnerable group. Our efforts will target visibility and walking, jay walking, distracted walking and crossing on freeways. Research shows that reducing speed by 10 km an hour, will reduce the likelihood of many crashes from happening and improve safety for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists,” the Minister said.

With research showing that the risk of a crash is reduced by half when seatbelts and restraints are used, the Minister said all occupants, both front and rear seated passengers, must use seatbelts at all times when a car is in motion.

“Driving under the influence of alcohol remains a pervasive challenge. We have established that alcohol is a factor in 27% [of] fatal crashes in the country. Therefore, drunk driving operations will be a top priority to improve safety on the roads.”

Fight against corruption

Mbalula has committed to raising the bar in the fight against corruption as well as dealing decisively with those who solicit and pay bribes.

“Our National Anti–Corruption Unit will be hard at work, uprooting this cancer that undermines our efforts to uphold the rule of law on our roads. Vehicles without number plates will be discontinued while vehicle registration information is being verified,” the Minister said.

Law enforcement will also focus on cross-border transport to make sure that all road transport users, be it passenger transport or freight, are able to go about their business in a safe and unrestrained manner.

“We rely on law enforcement officers to enforce the law and to protect innocent passengers and road users. It is for this reason that we have adopted a zero-tolerance approach to any form of lawlessness on our roads, not only during this festive season, but on an ongoing basis.

“Law enforcement officers will only be able to achieve this if they perform their duties in a professional manner, apply the law fairly and treat all people in a non-partisan way. We therefore urge all road users to make sure that their vehicles, are serviced and in a good condition in order to avoid accidents and deaths of innocent people,” the Minister said.

Source: South African Government News Agency