Festive season road stats: ‘Road user behaviour still deeply problematic,’ says Western Cape Mobility MEC Ricardo Mackenzie

The Western Cape MEC of Mobility, Ricardo Mackenzie,released the festive season road safety statistics at the Gene Louw Traffic College in Brackenfell. Picture: Leon Lestrade / Independent Newspapers

The Western Cape MEC of Mobility, Ricardo Mackenzie,released the festive season road safety statistics at the Gene Louw Traffic College in Brackenfell. Picture: Leon Lestrade / Independent Newspapers

Published Jan 24, 2024


The Western Cape Department of Mobility released the Festive Season Road Safety statistics on Wednesday at the Gene Louw Traffic College in Brackenfell, Cape Town.

The statistics were taken from December 1, 2023, to January 11, 2024.

During this period, 164 deaths were recorded on the Western Cape roads, compared to the 131 deaths the previous year.

The incidents were recorded on provincial and municipal roads.

A total of 108 deaths were recorded on municipal roads, up from 68 deaths the previous year. Provincial deaths recorded were 56, compared to 63 deaths in the previous year.

“Although we welcome this 11% decrease in fatalities on provincial roads, one death on our roads is one too many. My prayers and thoughts are with those who are mourning their loved ones, and best wishes for a speedy recovery to those who have been injured in traffic crashes over the last few weeks.

“The reality is that our behaviour on the roads in South Africa is still deeply problematic, and it has a devastating impact on our society. Despite our significant road safety efforts, we have a long way to go to turn the tide on poor road user behaviour.

“But I also want to recognise and thank the many road users who showed care and compassion for their fellow road users. Simultaneously, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to everyone who played a role in our Festive Season Road Safety campaign,” MEC for Mobility Ricardo Mackenzie said.

He also expressed his pride in all teams during this festive season.

Provincial Traffic Officers topped and checked 271,698 vehicles, issued almost 90,000 fines for various traffic violations, made 576 arrests for drunk driving and 64 arrests for reckless and negligent driving, and removed approximately 1,000 unroadworthy vehicles from the roads.

Mackenzie said it was the first time in years that festive season road crashes occurred at all hours of the day instead of predominantly at night.

“This concerning trend re-iterates the need for an effective 24/7 law enforcement service, which our Provincial Traffic Services currently deliver. Their visible deployment on all major routes in the province creates a continuous and omnipresent safety force for our residents and visitors.

“Our impact is boosted through partnering, which I saw for myself while visiting the teams on the ground. At an integrated fatigue management operation on the N1 outside Leeu-Gamka—just one of over 2,200 enforcement operations conducted this festive season—our Provincial Traffic Officers worked alongside members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) to stop drivers for enforced rest breaks during their travel while Provincial Regulatory Entity officials checked public transport documentation and compliance,” Mackenzie said.

He said Road Safety Officers and the Land Transport Safety Management team stepped in to speak to the drivers about their journey to make sure they were not at risk of fatigue, which plays a deadly role on our roads.

Drivers were then directed to receive free basic health testing by the Western Cape Emergency Medical Services (EMS), with the results guiding officers on further intervention if necessary.

For example, heightened blood pressure can be a sign of fatigue, requiring drivers to take a 30-minute rest and rehydrate before returning to check if their blood pressure has come down to continue their journey.

“I was encouraged to witness the drivers’ new awareness of how to avoid similar delays in the future by getting more sleep and swapping energy drinks for water. We also had the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral), the Road Accident Fund (RAF), and local Fire and Rescue Services supporting the operation.

“This anecdote, which demonstrates behaviour change in action, is just one example of the impact of bringing together nine different teams with the shared goal of reducing traffic fatalities,” Mackenzie said.

He also believes the investments in technology and integrated systems are paying off. He said traffic management teams have utilised available data and system mechanisms to increase the number of errant motorists apprehended for various offences, and they were applied to effectively plan and deploy resources over critical locations to meet the objectives of the festive season period.

Mackenzie said the technology also enabled his department to verify daily statistics on fatalities and other key indications, which inform both national and provincial oversight and allow for proactive re-assessment of deployments if necessary.

A total of four pedestrians were arrested, 12 people were arrested for bribery, 105 arrests were made for fraudulent documentation, 4,512 fines were issued for tyre defects, a total of 13,781 seatbelt offences were recorded, and a total of 13,860 unlicensed vehicle offences were recorded.

“We offered free vehicle testing ahead of the festive season, starting in October, to assist drivers with checking their vehicles' roadworthiness. Alarmingly, over 70% of the vehicles tested were found to be unroadworthy, and drivers were taken through the necessary deficiencies to better equip their vehicles to operate safely on our roads.

“Our Road Safety Officers conducted 76 awareness interventions, with over 3,500 direct engagements with road users, targeting drivers alongside enforcement operations at roadblocks, public transport facilities, and weighbridges, and targeting pedestrians in hazardous areas around the province,” Mackenzie said.

He said he was also extremely concerned about the vulnerability of pedestrians, who accounted for over 50% of all fatalities.

Of the 22 deaths, 22 were pedestrian hit-and-runs.

Mackenzie said management was already preparing for the Easter holiday period and using this data and learnings to inform tactical plans.

[email protected]