Accidents involving pedestrians accounted for the majority of the 1,617 road fatalities during the 2019/2020 festive season.
This was revealed by Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula on Thursday afternoon when he released the preliminary report on the festive season road statistics.
“Our analysis further demonstrates that the main causes of fatal crashes over this period were pedestrians, single vehicles overturning, hit-and-runs and head-on collisions,” Mabalula said.
According to the report, pedestrian fatalities accounted for 40% of the 1,617 road fatalities, meaning that around 646 pedestrians were killed during the festive season.
Passengers in vehicles made up 34% of the fatalities, while drivers accounted for 25% and only 1% were cyclists.
Road Traffic Management Corporation CEO advocate Makhosini Msibi elaborated on the pedestrian fatalities, saying there were several factors that led to pedestrians being killed.
According to Msibi, pedestrian fatalities were recorded in urban areas where drunk drivers lost control and hit pedestrians as a result. Unroadworthy vehicles also accounted for pedestrian deaths due to them veering off roads and crashing into pedestrians.
He said jaywalking was also a contributing factor.
Msibi added 1,390 fatal crashes were recorded during the 2019/2020 festive season in which light motorcars were involved in 42% of the accidents, light delivery vehicles at 20% and minibuses or combis 9%.
“The fact that minibuses have contributed to less than 10% of the fatal crashes confirms the success of Operation Hlokomela, which is an initiative of the taxi industry and again shows that law enforcement operations focusing on public transport are bearing fruit,” Mbalula said.
He announced a 10% reduction in the number of fatalities from 1,789 in 2018/19 to 1,617 in 2019/2020 as well as a 3% reduction in the number of fatal crashes from 1,438 in 2018/19 to 1,390 in 2019/2020.
The dates under review were from December 1 to January 15.
According to the preliminary report, the Free State recorded the highest reduction in road fatalities, experiencing a 35% decline, followed by Mpumalanga with 23% and the Western Cape at 19%.
Increases in road fatalities were recorded in Limpopo (12%) and Gauteng (1%).
“As a consequence, 111 people died on the roads in the Free State, 144 in Mpumalanga, 136 in the Western Cape, 110 in the North West, 49 in the Northern Cape, 242 in the Eastern Cape, 354 in KwaZulu-Natal, 217 in Limpopo and 254 in Gauteng.”
Crediting law enforcement for the decline in road accidents, Mbalula congratulated the Free State, Mpumalanga and Western Cape.
While human factor as a contributor to accidents decreased by 8%, Mbalula still lashed out at speedsters, drunken driving and unroadworthy vehicles as the number one cause for concern on the roads.
Approximately 1.5 million vehicles were stopped and checked over the festive season.
More than 573,147 motorists were issued with traffic fines, a decrease of 191,862 corresponding to the previous festive season, Mbalula said.
“The most common offences for which traffic fines were issued were; speeding [58,669], driving without a licence [26,516], driving without a seatbelt [25,786], driving unlicenced vehicles [32,481] and fines for driving cars with worn tyres were 13,311.”
“The number of discontinued vehicles increased from 4,016 to 6,358 and vehicles that were impounded increased from 2,967 to 3,814.”
A total of 9,414 motorists were arrested during the festive season for various offences, including driving under the influence, speeding, reckless and negligent driving as well as for outstanding warrants.
A total of 85 people – including traffic officers, vehicle testing station staff and ordinary motorists – were arrested on charges of bribery, fraud and forgery.
“We have adopted zero tolerance to fraud, corruption, drunken driving and speeding, and the results speak for themselves,” Mbalula said.
“Three vehicle testing stations in Limpopo were shut down as a result of anti-corruption investigations undertaken to eliminate the fraudulent issuing of vehicle roadworthy certificates.”
“Six law enforcers – namely three members of the South African Police Service, one member of the South African Defence Force, a member of Correctional Services and security officers – were arrested in the Eastern Cape for drunken driving.”
Mbalula called on the courts to consider the careers of law enforcement officials, who have broken the law, to be considered as an aggravating factor and to give them the toughest sentences possible.