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The first 14 days (December 1st to December 14th 2015) of the festive season have seen a slight increase in the number of fatalities on Western Cape roads compared to the figures for the same time last year. Comparative road deaths are up 12% from 51 in 2014, to 58 deaths so far this December. Even more concerning is the spike in passenger deaths in the same period (from 6 deaths in 2014, to 18 deaths this December thus far).  Saturday, the 12th of December 2015, saw the highest number of deaths on a single day since the beginning of December: 11 deaths including 8 passengers and 3 pedestrians.  Some fatal crashes have been reported in areas like the N1 near Beaufort West, where high traffic volumes are synonymous with this time of year.

While passenger deaths have risen sharply in the first 14 days of the festive season, pedestrian deaths have  gone down by 29% from 35 deaths in 2014 compared to 25 deaths this year during the same period. Pedestrian deaths are still far too high, with road death statistics  showing that not only are pedestrian deaths continually the leading class of fatality, but also that poorer communities are disproportionately represented in pedestrian death statistics, with black males, aged 20 – 34, being the highest risk demographic.

With traffic volumes set to increase as the festive season continues, I urge all motorists to be extra mindful of pedestrians on our roads, particularly at night when many pedestrians are likely to have consumed alcohol.

Pedestrians must also ensure that they are highly visible to motorists at all times; that they steer clear of pedestrian no-go areas, namely highways, where it is not only dangerous for pedestrians to walk, but also illegal; and that they do not take to the roads after consuming alcohol.  Alcohol consumption and road use remain a deadly combination for all road users, particularly pedestrians.

Freeway hotspots for pedestrian incidents:

  • N1 from Brackenfell to Joostenberg Vlakte,
  • N2 from Cape Town International Airport to Spine Rd,
  • N7 adjacent to Du Noon,
  • Vanguard Drive from Masemola Rd to the R300,
  • R300 from Vanguard Drive to the N2.

Safely Home has launched a multimedia campaign focussed on the dangers associated with alcohol and road use, titled “Alcohol and the Road Don’t Mix”. The campaign is  live on the Safely Home website, www.safelyhome.westerncape.gov.za, twitter: @WCGovSafelyHome hashtag #BoozeFreeRoads, and is supported by radio advertisements on various leading radio stations, and VMS message board messages on busy highways. #BoozeFreeRoads was specifically targeted at both motorists and pedestrians, with drinking and driving, as well as drinking and walking, both proving to be a deadly combination on our roads.

The focus areas for our law enforcement activities remain drink driving, speed, and most importantly at this time, fatigue management. The horrific crashes we see on our roads, particularly on long stretches like the N1 and the N2, can undoubtedly be attributed to one (if not all) of these contributing factors. I encourage all road users to be mindful of the dangers that exist on our roads, and be informed of all these factors as they take to the roads during this busy time.