Road fatalities increase by 17%

845 road fatalities have been recorded since the beginning of the festive season.

Picture: Freeimages.com

JOHANNESBURG – Transport Minister Dipuo Peters says she plans to make resources available to law enforcement officers across the country in an effort to curb the number of road fatalities.

At a media briefing in Midrand on Tuesday, Peters said she is worried about the 845 fatalities recorded since the beginning of December in comparison to last year this time.

The number of fatalities has increased by 17%.

Peters says her department needs to provide law enforcement officers with appropriate tools of the trade, such as vehicles.

She also says that officers should be encouraged to work overtime and be remunerated accordingly.

“We’ll further engage with my counterparts in all provinces to extend overtime payment for the remainder of the festive season.”

Peters says her department will continue working with the Department of Justice to introduce minimum sentences for negligent and reckless driving.

The minister has called on the media, faith-based organisations and others to help spread the message of safe driving and obeying the rules of the road.

DRUNK DRIVING STILL A PROBLEM

Negligence and drunk driving have again been identified as the leading causes of deaths on the country’s roads.

Peters on Tuesday said the arrests of over 2,000 drunk drivers in Gauteng alone shows that some South African drivers are not willing to obey the rules of the road.

“We also commend Gauteng province on the arrest of 2,509 drunken drivers, who are the main causes of crashes.”

Peters said men have accounted for the highest number of road fatalities since the start of the festive season, accounting for 79%.

The minister said men are being most negligent, but her department has also noted with concern an increase in the number of female drivers arrested for drunk driving across the country.

“Females account for 21.1% of the total percentage of our fatalities. We have to deal decisively with this phenomenon and investigate the causal factors of this unfortunate trend.”

CONFISCATING CELLPHONES

Meanwhile, the Road Traffic Management Corporation has put its weight behind new municipal by-laws that allow certain municipalities in the Western Cape to confiscate motorists’ cellphones if they’re found on the phone while driving.

Drivers would then have to pay amounts of up to R2,000 to get their phones back.

RTMC spokesperson Simon Zwane said, “We have seen the use of cellphones while driving is a major contributor to accidents and that is why we welcome the intervention by some metros and municipalities in dealing with the use of cellphones while driving.”

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)