The Automobile Association (AA) welcomes the drop in Easter road death fatalities announced by Transport Minister Dipuo Peters in Pretoria this morning, but notes that the reduced figures may be a blip rather than a trend.
The Minister said that preliminary figures indicate 156 people died on the country’s roads from Thursday 24 March to Monday 28 March this year, compared to 287 fatalities from 2 to 6 April 2015, a 46 percent reduction year-on-year.
“While these figures are encouraging, they remain shockingly high. We are concerned that they don’t present the full picture of what is happening on our country’s roads. In December we saw an alarming increase of 14 percent in road deaths over the December festive period compared to the previous year, and now, although from a smaller base, we see a drop of 46 percent in Easter road deaths,” the Association noted.
Of concern, the Association said, was that regular, detailed, and reliable statistics are not available on a regular basis to document the trend in road fatalities, and their causes, over a period of time.
“This drop in Easter deaths may simply be an anomaly because, based on the figures release in January on the December festive season death toll, the trend was showing an increase, and not a decrease in road deaths. Data on the intervening months is lacking, as are statistics that show annual fatalities. In fact, annual statistics have not been released since 2011, which makes it extremely difficult to gauge the success or failure of road safety interventions,” said the AA.
Earlier, Minister Peters noted that part of the success this Easter was an increase in policing on the country’s roads, along with better co-operation between various organisations, more road safety education, and a renewed focus on road safety by the nine Transport MECs.
“We are encouraged that the increased visibility of traffic officers is seen as an important reason for the decline in the number of road deaths this year. We have always maintained that people will drive better if there are more traffic officials on the roads, instead of on on-ramps and off-ramps checking for expired license discs. This is an initiative we would like to see throughout the year, instead of only during a few high profile periods,” the AA said.
According to the Minister, the major causes of road deaths this year were pedestrians not walking safely and being struck by oncoming traffic, fatigue, inconsiderate and reckless driving, and drunk driving.
“All of these causes again point to a general poor attitude among drivers and pedestrians, and is, we believe, cause for great concern. Government, as well as motorists in general, need to urgently do more to improve this before a meaningful reduction in road deaths may be realised in South Africa,” the AA concluded.
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