Alcohol, speed and vehicle fitness under spotlight

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Karabo Ngoepe

JOHANNESBURG- As the festive season fully kicks in, traffic officials throughout the country are battling to deal with drunk driving, speeding and un-roadworthy vehicles.

The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) said scores of motorists have been arrested on South African roads for drunken driving and speeding since the start of the festive season. Spokesperson Simon Zwane said their operations are already yielding results on the roads. He said they impounded an un-roadworthy bus destined for Zimbabwe during the launch of the Arrive Alive campaign in Limpopo on Tuesday.

“A total of 126 motor vehicles have so far been discontinued after being found with various defects which make them unfit to be on the road. More than 160 drivers have been arrested for drunken driving and five motorists have been caught driving at excessive speeds. The worst speedster was stopped on the N2 near Winkelspruit in KwaZulu Natal,” said Zwane.

South Africa has a high rate of road fatalities during the holiday periods and alcohol consumption, excessive speeding coupled with defective cars have been identified as key drivers for the high numbers. During the 2016 festive season, 1,714 fatalities were recorded on the roads, indicating a 5% increase from the previous year.

This year, the Easter holiday period accounted for 235 deaths on the roads, an increase of 51% from 156 over the same period the previous year.

Zwane added that they have noticed a trend of accidents increasing between 7pm to midnight and between 4am and 8am. He said the agency has identified problematic areas and they would be giving them attention this year.

“Statistics from the previous festive season show that road accidents increase in the evenings between 19H00 and 24H00 and in the morning between 04H00 and 08H00. Most accidents occur over the weekends. Routes that pose the highest risks and built up areas – i.e. suburbs, townships and settlements – have been identified for intensified policing to reduce pedestrian and driver fatalities. The fitness of public transport and overloading will also receive close attention to reduce the number of pedestrian deaths. Traffic authorities have taken these factors into consideration in their planning and will be working around the clock to ensure traffic officer visibility and enforcement of the law,” Zwane said.

He appealed to motorists to play their part in reducing road crashes during this period by obeying the rules of the road and avoiding alcohol, speed and reckless driving.

Meanwhile, the Road Traffic Management Corporation is investigating a major crash that occurred in the Eastern Cape this morning (Wednesday). A Minibus patient transport vehicle overturned on the N6 between Queenstown and Jamestown Eastern Cape killing 6 patients including an 8-month old baby and the driver.

“The exact cause of the crash is subject to the ongoing investigations,” Zwane said.

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karabo.ngoepe@18.202.123.161