More than 4,500 people killed on SA roads in 2014/2015

Latest figures show that 80 percent of the crash fatalities involved adults and males between of 19 and 34.

FILE: Latest figures show that 80 percent of the crash fatalities involved adults and males between of 19 and 34. Picture: ER24.

JOHANNESBURG - Transport Minister Dipuo Peters says harsher laws must be put in place if government wants to deal adequately with drunk driving and speeding on the country's roads.

Latest figures released by the department on Friday show that 80 percent of the crash fatalities in the past year involved adults and males between the ages of 19 and 34.

The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) report said more than 4,500 people died on South African roads.

The minister says light passenger vehicles contributed the highest number of fatal crashes in the 2014/15 financial year, with the figure at 47 percent of all road deaths.

Minibus taxis were responsible for seven percent of road deaths.

Peters says traffic officials will increase their visibility at crash hot-spots, including the N1 between Pretoria, Polokwane and the Beitbridge border post, as well as the N2 between Somerset West and Cape Town.

"There should be periodic integrated operations focused on checking the road worthiness with fines of more than R50,000 imposed on impounded heavy vehicles and R15,000 for light vehicles. It is important that we give stiffer penalties."

The department says drunk driving remains one of the main contributing factors to crashes.

Peters says serious action needs to be taken.

"New inexperienced drivers between the ages of 25 and 34 years of age were most likely to die on the roads. Women were most likely to die on the roads as passengers, especially in public transport vehicles, while children will be affected as passengers and pedestrians."

The latest national road traffic data shows most fatal crashes in South Africa involve young men in light vehicles, and occur over the weekends.

Most crashes between 2014 and 2015 were recorded in Gauteng, the Western Cape and in Kwa-Zulu Natal.

Meanwhile, RTMC says law makers are considering lowering the blood-alcohol limit to 0,02 grams per 100 millilitres.

It also says it's looking at imposing a minimum two-year jail sentence for drunk driving.

The current limit is 0,05 grams per 100 millilitres, but if government has its way, it could decrease all the way to zero.

The corporation's head Makhosini Msibi says a committee is reviewing legislation, with the aim of imposing harsher penalties

"[In] particular, schedule three offences that relate to the traffic offences, to be reclassified to schedule five. Key to it is also the minimum penalty that we are considering that people have commit, [like] driving under the influence of liquor, to a minimum sentence of two years."

Four years after a Western Cape court ruled that the Dräger Breathalyser test be suspended, authorities are now promising to reintroduce the equipment with better laws in place by November.

In 2011 an alleged drunk driver was acquitted in a landmark test case.

This resulted in court cases across the country being withdrawn, where evidence was obtained using the Dräger test.

The transport minister says final arrangements are now under way to make sure it can be used to conduct on-the-spot tests, on motorists suspected to be driving under the influence.