Monday, December 24, 2007

Festive season road death toll down from last year

By Nadia Samie
24 December 2007

Nine-hundred and five people have died in 810 road accidents since the beginning of December 2007, which marked the start of the festive season. This figure is down from last year, when 1223 fatalities occurred from 1018 crashes for the same period.

The national Department of Transport has urged South African and visiting road-users to exercise extra caution over the festive season, a period notorious for road fatalities. In particular, pedestrians are asked to be careful on the country’s roads, as they form the highest number of road accident victims.

According to the department, last year this time, 497 pedestrians had been killed, while 375 pedestrians have been killed so far this season.

“During this festive season it is very important to avoid drinking and walking in an unsafe manner. The dangers of drinking and walking are tragically evident because the high intake of alcohol can seriously slow down your reactions and capabilities. By far the greater percentage of pedestrians injured or killed on our roads are found to have high levels of alcohol in their bloodstream at the time of the accident,” the department says in a statement.

Traffic officers have been deployed at holiday spots, in townships and villages, and they are especially vigilant for those drinking and then getting behind the wheel of a car.

Arrive Alive has the following road safety tips for pedestrians and motorists:

  • Always cross at intersections or at pedestrian bridges and crossings where drivers’ expect to find pedestrians;

  • Walk directly across the street. Do not walk diagonally. The shorter the distance crossed the less time you are at risk of danger;

  • Try not to walk on the road. By walking on the road you will be putting yourself at risk of being knocked down by fast approaching vehicles;

  • If you have to walk on the roadside, always walk on the right hand side as close to the edge as possible, facing oncoming traffic;

  • Cross only when it is safe to do so, and look in both directions and listen to oncoming traffic while crossing;

  • Wear bright colored clothing at night to increase your visibility to motorists;

  • Motorists must look out for unsteady or staggering pedestrians who might be under the influence of alcohol;

  • Avoid walking or crossing the freeway because vehicles travel at very high speeds. It is illegal for pedestrians to be on the freeway; and

  • At a pedestrian traffic light wait until the little green man appears. Then look right, left and right again before crossing. Look out for impatient motorists.
    The provincial breakdown of road fatalities so far this season is as follows:

    Gauteng: 195
    KwaZulu Natal: 143
    Western Cape: 111
    Eastern Cape: 114
    Free State: 65
    Mpumalanga 103
    North West: 62
    Limpopo: 96
    Northern Cape: 16

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