The road death toll during the 2017/2018 festive season has decreased to 1527, an 11% drop from the previous year.
Minister of Transport Joe Maswanganyi released statistics on Monday morning in Pretoria.
Maswanganyi also revealed stats on speeding drivers, corruption at licensing centres and the department’s plans to curb road deaths in 2018.
More registered vehicles
The department stated that SA entered the 2017/18 festive season with a higher number of registered vehicles compared to the same period in 2016. Maswanganyi said: “In December 2017 there were 11 028 193 registered vehicles in the country compared to 10 801 558 in December 2016. The number of driving licences issued had increased from 12 163 813 to 12 658 135.”
How has the department made SA’s roads safer?
Maswanganyi said: “When releasing the festive season report in 2017, we made commitments to deal decisively with fraud and corruption, engage the Department of Justice on the reclassification process of some road offences and also begin the process of the introduction of a 24/7 shift within the traffic law enforcement fraternity.
“As a result of these efforts and a well-executed festive season plan, we recorded noticeable declines in the number of fatalities in seven (7) provinces with the exception of the Western Cape and the North West provinces which recorded 7% and 11% increases respectively.
“Limpopo was a star performer as it managed to achieve the highest reduction in the number of fatalities followed by the Free State and KwaZulu Natal.”
Appalling road deaths among pedestrians
The highest number of fatalities was among pedestrians which increased from 34% to 37% and fatalities among drivers also increased from 23% to 27%. However, there was a decline in passenger fatalities from 41% to 35%.
While there was an increase in fatalities among drivers between the ages of 25 and 34, there was a decline in the number of fatalities among drivers between the ages of 35 and 49.
A significant decline was noted among pedestrians aged 25 to 34. There was “a disturbing increase” among those aged 35 to 44, said the Minister.
The number of traffic violation notices decreased to 304 603 compared to 453 263. The department said: “There was a decline in the number of people who were fined for failing to wear safety belts and the number of discontinued vehicles.
“While drunken driving was a major focus area during the period under review, there was, however, a decline in the number of motorists arrested for drunken driving from 5943 in the 2016/17 period to 3301 in the 2017/18 period.”
What about speeding drivers?
Maswanganyi said: “Speed continued to be a major headache with 922 drivers arrested compared to 785 in the 2016/17 period. Five motorists were arrested in Limpopo, Gauteng, KwaZulu Natal and Western Cape for driving at speeds exceeding 220km/h in120km zones.
“An impressive 43% decline in fatalities was recorded on the Top 13 identified hazardous routes with244 deaths recorded on these routes compared to 429 in the previous period.
“However, there was a disturbing increase in the number of fatalities within the municipal boundaries of eThekwini, Johannesburg, Nkangala, Cape Town, Ekurhuleni, Ehlanzeni, Capricorn, City of Tshwane, Thabo Mofutsanyane and Bojanala.”
Fraud and corruption in SA
Maswanganyi said: “In dealing with fraud and corruption, we closed down a state-owned driving licence centre in Nkowankowa, Limpopo where learners’ and driving licences were issued without due regard to the driver fitness.
“In this regard, five examiners and three civilians who facilitated corrupt deals were arrested. Twelve traffic officers were also arrested for taking bribes from motorists.
“In Gauteng, we raided three (3) privately owned vehicles testing centres and arrested ten (10) vehicle examiners on allegations fraudulently issuing roadworthy certificates to vehicles that they never examined.
“These efforts inspired more dedicated traffic officers to also act against offers of bribes by corrupt motorists. Their inspiration resulted in the arrests of three (3) motorists who offered bribes to traffic officers. Two of these arrests took place in Limpopo and one in the Eastern Cape. The total number of people arrested in this festive season on fraud and corruption charges stands at thirty-two (32).”
Audit process of vehicle testing centres
The department says it will combat fraud at vehicle testing centres with the roll-out of an auditing process.
Maswanganyi said: “To further decisively out root fraud and corruption, we have initiated a process to audit all vehicle testing centres and driver and learner testing centres to establish adherence to regulations and standards. This process will run parallel to the investigation that is being undertaken by the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) as proclaimed by the State President in November 2017.”
“We also engaged Magistrates as part of the process to ensure that there are tough consequences for those who break the rules of the road, particularly drunk drivers, speedsters and reckless and negligent drivers. This is part of finalising the reclassification process of these offences into Schedule 5 offences, which are more severe.”
“The process of introducing the 24/7 shift has also begun in earnest. The shift is now implemented in full in the Western Cape whilst other provinces are at different stages of implementation.”
Plan to curb road deaths in 2018
Maswanganyi said: “In line with the proclamation signed by the President, the RTMC will work with the Special Investigating Unit to intensify investigations into allegations of unlawful and improper conduct relating to the registration and licencing of motor vehicles together with irregularities in the issuing of driving licences.
“We will do these things to ensure that we continue to reduce road crashes and fatalities further than what has been achieved in the recent festive season.”