A total of 510 people lost their lives across South African roads over the 2018 Easter period, Transport Minister Blade Nzimande said on Tuesday.
Announcing the 2018 preliminary Easter Road Safety Report at Parliament’s Imbizo media centre, Minister Nzimande said the main contributory factors to road fatalities from 29 March to 9 April were related to human behaviour.
“The preliminary report shows that the main contributory factors to road fatalities are related human behaviour, with male drivers accounting for 71.1% of fatalities and females for 24.1%,” said the Minister, adding that it seemed as if women are better drivers.
In 2018, human factor contributed 89.5% to the crashes as compared to the 74.3% in 2017.
The 510 fatalities showed a 14% increase from the 449 fatalities recorded in 2017.
This as the department defined the Easter period differently from previous years as the department previously focused on only on the four day long-weekend. This year the Easter period was aligned to school holidays pushing it by a further seven days.
The report showed a noticeable shift towards the rural poor who use the roads as the number of pedestrians affected by fatalities increased from 33.8% in 2017 to 37.3% this year.
An increase was also recorded in the number of drivers killed from 20.5% in 2017 to 25.6%.
Passengers were the only user group that experienced a significant decline from 43% in 2017 to 35.5% this year.
The department expressed concern at the number of young children and middle-aged individuals who died as pedestrians on the roads. Children between 0 and four years recorded an increase of 4.9% from 2.6% in 2017 to 7.5% in 2018.
Middle aged individuals aged between 50 and 54 also recorded a sharp increase from 1.3% in 2017 to 8.4% in 2018.
Meanwhile, the number of Jay-walking pedestrians killed on the roads also increased to 38.0% as compared to 25.2% in 2017.
Unwarranted behaviours such as speeding continued unabated.
“It is very concerning that some unwarranted behaviours continued unabated and this has been ably demonstrated by the successful arrests of 6 435 drivers who were caught speeding, 3208 drivers driving unlicensed vehicles, 300 drivers without drivers licenses, 2 344 drivers without fastening seat belts and 1 698 drivers driving vehicles with worn tires,” said the Minister.
In additional, 430 vehicles were involved in fatal crashes compared to 349 last year.
Light motor vehicle accounted for about 44.6% of the crashes almost the same as last year. Bakkies or light delivery vehicles accounted for the second highest number of vehicle collisions at 21.2%.
Most crashes noted the report happened on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday between 5pm and 8pm.
Fatalities recorded per province were:
- Gauteng – 89
- KwaZulu-Natal – 111
- Western Cape – 34
- Eastern Cape – 59
- Free State – 27
- Mpumalanga – 49
- North West – 34
- Limpopo – 80
- Northern Cape – 27
Cost to the economy
Deputy Minister Sindi Chikunga said the costs of accidents and incidents to the economy exceed R300 billion.
“Indeed it’s very costly. Two years ago we were saying the costs [are] about R306 billion. That includes the money paid to the families of people who died as a result of accidents and loss of income and so on. The RAF [Road Accident Fund] is technically insolvent as we speak because of the cost of these accidents,” she said.
This as the Minister earlier stated that the RAF is in the red in excess of R200 billion.
The report showed that hit and run incidents decreased by 16.1% in 2018 as compared to the 22.8% in 2017, while roads and environmental factors contributed 6.2% as compared to the19.9% recorded in 2017.
Minister Nzimande said while the target to reduce fatalities by 10% has not been met, the department is encouraged by the behaviour of the majority of motorists and all road users, who showed a willingness to obey the rules of the road.
“We have however been encouraged by the behaviour of the majority of motorists and all road users, who showed a willingness to obey the rules of the road. We will not lose hope,” said the Minister.
He further added that the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) together with the provinces will develop a road safety plan. The plan will focus on the main contributory factors of crashes such as pedestrians, impaired driving, dangerous driving and occupant safety so as to address challenges experienced this Easter period.
Minister Nzimande thanked traffic law enforcement officers, the South African Police Service (SAPS), emergency medical services and doctors among others who maintained high levels of visibility on the roads over the Easter period.