‘Deadliest festive season yet’ on SA roads
THE Road Traffic Management Corporation conceded on Wednesday that it would miss its target to reduce the number of road deaths by 25%, as the number of fatalities since December 1 had already passed the 1,000 mark.
The corporation also revised upwards its road death toll for last year from 1,474 to 1,771.
Rob Handfield-Jones of driving.co.za said on Wednesday "the latest figure meant that Christmas 2011-12 was the deadliest Christmas season in South Africa’s road safety history and the current figures suggest this year will be on par, if not worse".
During the 2009-10 holiday season, 1,582 fatalities were recorded, and between December 1 2010 and January 8, 1,551 fatalities.
Road Traffic Management Corporation spokesman Ashref Ismail estimated that 38 to 40 people died daily on roads nationwide.
"The number remains unacceptably high," he said.
The presence of traffic officers had been raised as traffic on all highways had increased, he said.
The corporation last week launched its new road safety campaign which carries the slogan, "Get there. No regrets" and is being run in conjunction with the United Nations decade of action for road safety.
According to the 2009 World Health Organisation’s global status report on road safety sub-Saharan African countries have some of the highest road death rates in the world, even though they have only 2% of the world’s registered vehicles.
This rate is double the average rate for Latin America and Southeast Asia, and more than five times that of the best performers — Sweden, the UK and the Netherlands.
Road Traffic Management Corporation acting CEO Collins Letsoalo said the agency aimed for the same level of awareness on road safety as that which existed for tuberculosis or HIV/AIDS. It was time "to do things differently" and it would be a "hard-hitting campaign" to bring the message home.
But organisations such as Justice Project SA believe that South Africans’ approach to law enforcement should be improved.
"What we need is a thorough transformation in both the way that drivers view the law and the way in which enforcement authorities enforce it," said national chairman Howard Dembovsky.
Meanwhile, the Department of Home Affairs has said that the number of people travelling through South Africa’s ports of entry has fallen by three percentage points, with 2.8-million people passing through various border posts.
The figure includes both South Africans and foreign nationals who passed through immigration from the beginning of the month.
Last year close to 2.9-million travellers passed through immigration in the same period.
The department has faced criticism over the chaotic management of South Africa’s borders.
This month the police used tear gas to control a group of travellers at the Beitbridge border post.
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