The fatalities on South African roads during the 2020 festive season declined by seven percent when compared to the previous period… with one of the main differences this year being a time when South Africans were under lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19. Over a third of these fatal accidents occurred during curfew hours, with people breaking curfew.
“Though people are observant to regulations and curfew – there are some who do not listen,” tweeted Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula.
“Overall, we recorded 1 448 fatalities from 1 210 fatal crashes. This represents a 7% decline in fatalities and 10.3% decline in fatal crashes year-on-year,” the Minister said earlier, during the release of the 2020 Festive Season Road Statistics on Friday on the N12, Eldorado Park Pedestrian Bridge. The festive season period covers the six weeks commencing from 1 December 2020 to 11 January 2021.
“Although we have recorded a decline in fatalities in eight of the nine provinces, we fell short in achieving our ambitious 20% target we set for this festive season,” Mbalula said.
Festive season road statistics explained
The main cause of crashes have been attributed to jaywalking, hit and run incidents, speeding, overtaking into oncoming traffic, wet and slippery surfaces and tyre bursts.
“More than half (54.3%) of the fatal crashes occurred on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday, suggesting that the majority of crashes took place within residential areas long after travellers had reached their destinations,” Mbalula said. The minister said “alcohol remains a factor contributing to accidents.”
The Minister said 34.1% of crashes happened during the curfew, between midnight and 6am in the morning.
“There was a notable decline of 4.9% in the number of pedestrians who died on the roads compared to the previous year.
“However, driver fatalities increased from 24.2% to 26.9%, passenger fatalities increased from 32.2% to 34.5% while cyclist fatalities stood at one percent,” the Minister said.
Minibus vehicles accounted for 8.2% of fatal crashes compared to 11.1% in the previous year.
Most hazardous routes in South Africa
The following roads accounted for the highest number of crashes and fatalities:
- N3 near Harrismith, in KwaZulu-Natal
- N2 near Idutywa, in the Eastern Cape
- N1 near Modimolle, in Limpopo
- R37 Mecklenburg, in Limpopo
- N12 near Potchefstroom, in the North West
“It is worth noting that the R71 near Mankweng has dropped from the number one spot to number nine, pointing the success of the road safety campaign in Limpopo.
“The R573, better known as Moloto Road, which is notorious for road crashes and fatalities, does not appear in the top 20 of hazardous routes this year,” the Minister said.
The breakdown of road fatalities per SA province is as follows:
- Western Cape recorded a decline of 15.9%, with 132 fatalities compared to 157 in 2019/2020
- KwaZulu-Natal recorded a decline of 14%, with 289 fatalities compared to 336 in 2019/20
- Limpopo recorded a decline of 8.3%, with 188 fatalities compared to 205 in 2019/2020
- Northern Cape recorded a decline of 7.7%, with 36 fatalities compared to 39 in 2019/2020
- Gauteng recorded a decline of 7.2%, with 231 fatalities compared to 249 in 2019/20
- North West recorded a decline of 2.0%, with 99 fatalities compared to 101 in 2019/2020
- Eastern Cape recorded a decline of 1.3%, with 228 fatalities compared to 231 in 2019/20
- Free State recoded a decline of 0.9%, with 107 fatalities compared to 108 in 2019/20
- Mpumalanga recorded an increase of 4.4%, with 141 fatalities compared to 135 in 2019/2020
During this festive season, traffic volumes declined from 1 556 704 the previous year, to 1 419 782.
Heavy vehicles’ increased contribution to fatal crashes
“We have noted with concern that heavy vehicles had an increased contribution to fatal crashes. Heavy vehicles, with a gross vehicle mass (GVM) greater 3500kg, were involved in 5.2% of fatal crashes compare to 3.7% last year. Articulated trucks were involved in 4.7% of fatal crashes compared to 4.9% previously,” the Minister said.
Light delivery vehicles accounted for 24.6% of fatalities compared to 22.2% in the previous year, while motorcycles accounted for 1.9% compared to zero in the previous year.
The overwhelming number of vehicles involved in fatal crashes are sedan and station wagons, which accounted for 51.4% of fatal crashes compared to 51.9% last year.
Enforcing law and order on SA roads
Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the wet weather conditions, law enforcement officers conducted 2 937 roadblocks, where 1 379 191 vehicles were stopped.
This resulted in 245 763 traffic fines being issued.
“A total of 7 309 vehicles were discontinued and 3 386 vehicles impounded. A total of 4 144 motorists were arrested for offences that include driving under the influence of alcohol, excessive speeding, violation of operating permits and possession of false documents,” the Minister said.
During the period under review, 518 traffic officers tested positive for COVID-19 and had to be isolated, while 33 officers sadly passed away.
“This, together with the Disaster Management regulations, severely curtailed our ability to undertake the face-to-face activities that we normally do to promote road safety education and awareness,” the Minister said. – SAnews.gov.za