Festive Season Accident Statistics: Down on last year, but still a horror story

Road Fatalities 2023
Source: The Mail & Guardian

With the new year just starting, we all have our new year’s resolutions in place (at least for a few days) and are looking forward to a hopefully better year than the previous one.

But, the elephant in the room, as always, is the carnage that takes place on our roads, especially over the festive season, with holiday makers travelling to their respective holiday destinations, as well as the celebrations of Christmas and New Year.

Here are some of the eye-watering statistics:

More than 720 people died in road accidents over the festive season period. This number is down from the 751 deaths for the same period last year. By province, the figures are:

Western Cape76
Eastern Cape59
Free State49
North West37
Northern Cape17
Source: IOL

Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga released the preliminary statistics last week, stating that most crashes occurred between 7pm and 2am. The biggest contributors to fatalities were overloading, drunk driving and lack of care.

More than 4160 motorists were arrested over the period, with the majority of these having been arrested for driving under the influence. Others were arrested for producing false documents and driving public transport vehicles without the proper operating permits.

The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMS) reported that 3340 vehicles were impounded over the period.

Looking at the 3 main contributing factors quoted by our esteemed minister of transport, one wonders why these reasons have not been more aggressively addressed in the past.

Overloading is a common sight on our roads. Minibus taxis are packed with people, way beyond the legal limit for that vehicle. The sad part is that the passengers have no choice in the matter. They have no other means of transport, since our bus and rail systems have, largely, collapsed due to complete and utter bad management. Overloading is extremely dangerous, causing vehicle instability, tyre damage and, from a driving perspective, longer braking distances and risk of swerving and loss of control.

Drunk Driving is a scourge of our society that is clearly not policed and enforced to the maximum limits of the law. In this day and age, with the easy and inexpensive services of e-hailing companies like Uber, there is simply no excuse for getting behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol or other substances. If you can afford to spend money on booze, you can afford to call an Uber.

“Lack of Care” I placed in inverted commas as this is a very kind way of saying inconsiderate, law-breaking, reckless, neglecting and, possibly, murderous. Whenever I drive, I am astonished at the number of drivers who break the laws of the road without any hesitation. We need to remember that the laws are there for everyone’s safety. Safety is the fundamental basis for road laws. That includes stopping at stop signs and, especially, at red traffic lights. Overtaking on a solid white line is another pet hate of mine. I could bore you to tears with the number of law-breaking transgressions I see on a daily basis, but will not go there (this time).

Load-shedding has become an issue, especially at traffic light intersections. When the lights are out, the intersection, as we all know, should be treated as a four-way stop. Tell me another joke. Cars don’t even slow down, they simply floor it through the intersection.

Law enforcement is a major concern. I seldom see traffic police patrolling and stopping law breakers. The only time I personally see the cops is when they have set up roadblocks to check for paid-up license disks. I won’t go down the corruption road today, but we all know…

More than 720 people died at what should be the most joyous time of the year. That is 720 too many. We need to do something to stop the carnage. There are a number of organisations that are working with government to improve the situation and they are more effective than government alone. Please support these organisations in any way you can. Please click on the links below for more information:

Arrive Alive

Road Safety Partnership South Africa

Wheel Well


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