Warning of a high death toll during the festive season
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DURBAN - SOUTH Africa is known for its horrific fatalities from road crashes during the festive season, as many holidaymakers criss-cross the country to various destinations.
Between December 1, 2020, and January 11, 2021, a total of 1 448 people died on South African roads in 1 210 fatal crashes over that festive season, compared to 1 616 people being similarly killed over the same period in 2019/2020.
As we enter the festive season Richard Benson from the Road Safety Action Campaign has warned of catastrophic road crashes and the deaths of at least 2 000 people over the holiday period.
He said this would possibly occur as road laws were not adhered to.
Benson said that thousands of people were expected to die on the road from now until the end of January.
“Nearly 90% of all our road deaths would be avoided if the government simply copied the road safety rules laid down by the United Nations and others.
“A number of road safety experts agree that the horrific road carnage can be cut by more than half with a court order obliging the government to comply with the UN guidelines on speed limits.
“Now one must ask, which political party, company or individuals want to save thousands of lives a year? It is criminal negligence not to act and save lives,” he said.
Benson said that black pedestrians and other pedestrians were more likely to die on the roads because these were the people who largely lacked safe private transport.
He stated that inaction on the road warnings clearly indicated that “Black Lives don’t Matter”.
On Tuesday, Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC Peggy Nkonyeni, who spoke at the launch of the integrated safer festive season plan at the Durban Amphitheatre, said that more than 3 800 law enforcement officers (SAPS, national traffic officers, and the metro police) were to be deployed in KZN during the festive season.
Founder and director of South Africans Against Drunk Driving, Caro Smit said that preventing road deaths and injuries, which were often not talked about, would also help to prevent poverty as many families lost important breadwinners.
“We need to keep testing for alcohol; we have more than 13 million drivers in the country, therefore, we should be doing 13 million tests for alcohol so that people will know the chance of them being stopped and tested is very high, and that drunk driving is a crime in South Africa.
“We have excellent road rules in the country, but the enforcement of them is very poor and the other thing is the poor sentencing of people that are found drunk driving. Apart from testing, we need to make sure that paperwork is filled in correctly as people have the tendency of challenging the courts when facing drunk driving charges and it is hard to prove they were drunk.”
Smit said the number of motorists and passengers who wore seatbelts was low in South Africa.
“This is where government needs to step in, to ensure that it is compulsory in buses, taxis, and light vehicles because not doing so results in people being thrown out of windows during road accidents, resulting in loss of lives,” she said.