The reduction in road fatalities over the 2017/2018 festive period is encouraging and points to the success of certain road safety interventions across the country. We, however, concerned with the increase in the number of youth who died, and the continued high number of pedestrians who were killed.
The official festive season road fatality statistics were released by Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi in Pretoria yesterday.
From 1 December 2017 to 15 January 2018, 1676 people died on South Africa’s roads. This is an 11 percent decrease in road fatalities over the same period last year where 1875 people died. The festive season reporting period last year was from 1 December 2016 to 9 January 2017. In this period 1714 people died. In the comparable period this year, 1527 people lost their lives.
These numbers are promising and, hopefully, signal the start of a new trend where our country’s road fatality statistics show decreases instead of increases. Much, much more needs to be done to ensure our road deaths are reduced even further, and this year’s improved figures indicate some progress to achieving that.
Despite these better statistics, we are concerned about the increase in pedestrian deaths, and the number of deaths of people aged between 25 and 34.
We agree with the Minister that more needs to be done to educate the youth about pedestrian safety. We will continue our Walk Safe campaign in primary schools, as well as our Visibility Campaign to promote better pedestrian visibility, as part of our contribution to dealing more effectively with these problems.
Apart from the national figure, an important statistic is the 43% decline in fatalities on 13 of the country’s most hazardous routes. This, we believe, is partly due to the increase in visible policing on these routes, and is a policy which must be implemented in other areas.
It is therefore critical that the introduction of the 24/7 shift system for traffic law enforcers is done sooner rather than later. With more traffic officials on our roads, at all times of the day or night, we believe these reduced numbers will be sustained, and even improved on next year.
In addition to the reduced number of fatalities, there is a reduction in the number of people stopped for drunk driving, not wearing seatbelts, or for reckless and negligent driving.
This again points to a change of attitude in behaviour among motorists which we view as the most important element of road safety. Bad driving behaviour needs to become more socially unacceptable, and the evidence presented by the Minister this morning indicates this is also beginning to happen
We welcome these figures, and hope we see similar reduced statistics reflected over the upcoming Easter period. More importantly, though, we hope to see continued reductions year on year, and continued improved driving behaviour among all road users.