Easter road death toll up in East Cape

Road deaths in the Eastern Cape – as well as the rest of the country – over the Easter holiday period increased compared with last year, despite the efforts of safety campaigns to reduce the toll.

Preliminary road accident figures for the Easter break were revealed yesterday by Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi, who cited the general increase in the number of vehicles on the roads as one of the reasons for the higher figure.

In the Eastern Cape, fatalities rose to 27 compared with 24 last year, but the figure remained lower than the province’s 2015 toll of 35.

Nationally, there were 235 road deaths compared with 157 last year.

Maswanganyi said this year’s national toll was still lower than the 333 fatalities recorded in 2015.

One of the attributing factors that Maswanganyi highlighted was a remarkable increase in the number of vehicles on the country’s roads.

Registered vehicles as at March 31 this year numbered 12 047 404 compared with 11 818 124 a year ago – an increase of almost 230 000.

A breakdown of the figures shows that passengers accounted for the highest number of road deaths (50%), followed by pedestrians (24.5%), drivers (19.8%) and cyclists (5.7%).

“Our preliminary report shows that many people who died on our roads were victims of hit-andrun incidents, jaywalking or motorists who were driving at speeds that were too high,” Maswanganyi said.

“The report illustrates a new pattern in which crashes shifted from the identified historical hotspots to new routes and built-up areas.”

The vehicle types involved in fatal crashes included cars (49%), light delivery vehicles (20%), minibuses (7.6%) and buses (1.1%).

Maswanganyi said the financial implications of road safety on government resources were massive, with R147-billion spent on accidents annually.

“Over and above this figure, the Road Accident Fund spends R33-billion annually on payment of claims, which could be redirected to other government priorities, which will go miles to address the triple challenges of employment, poverty and inequalities,” he said.

During the Easter period, the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) said speeding, overloading and driving without driver’s licences or public driver’s permits were the main offences.

Justice Project South Africa chairman Howard Dembovsky criticised traffic law enforcement and Maswanganyi for not consistently enforcing violations all year round, but instead putting on a show of strength during holiday periods, which proved ineffective.

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