Spike in head-on collisions concerning ahead of busy Easter period | Western Cape Government


Spike in head-on collisions concerning ahead of busy Easter period

12 April 2017

Statement by Donald Grant, Minister of Transport and Public Works

As we approach this year’s notorious Easter period, some concerning driving trends have been observed on the roads, which have resulted in a spike in the number of head-on collisions recently. These head-on collisions have been largely due to driver error and reckless driving, resulting in serious injury and death.

We also know that the increased traffic volumes experienced over the Easter period are likely to exacerbate the problem. Increased traffic volumes are known to, in turn, result in the increased risk of crashes and serious injury on our roads.

Our plans have been specifically formulated to respond effectively to the extraordinary challenges that the Easter period brings with it. We hope that the current plan will not only address the dangers caused by reckless and irresponsible road use, but also go a long way to ensuring that injury or unnecessary death on our roads is avoided.

A spike in head-on collisions since the beginning of the year

Since the beginning of the year, we have seen a noticeable spike in the number of head-on collisions, which point to the causal factor being reckless and negligent driving. During the first weekend alone, on 1 April, there were 7 head-on collisions that claimed the lives of 18 people, including that of Provincial Traffic Officer Charmaine Olivier, who was killed on the road between Riebeek Kasteel and Riebeek West when another vehicle overtook and collided head on with her vehicle. Officer Olivier died on the scene, and the other driver was arrested and faces criminal charges.

Head-on collisions since January 2017 in the Western Cape

Date Location Fatalities
31 December 2016 Noordhoek City of Cape Town 3 Passengers
15 January 2017 N2 Caledon 1 Driver
4 February 2017 R54 Vredendal

1 Driver
1 Passenger

5 February 2017 R27 Ganzekraal West Coast Road 2 Drivers
10 February 2017 N1 Three Sisters 1 Passenger
17 February 2017 Fishhoek City of Cape Town 1 Passenger
18 February 2017 Muizenberg City of Cape Town 1 Passenger
19 February 2017 N1 between Beaufort West and Leeu Gamka 2 Passengers
18 March 17 R316 between Caledon and Napier 2 Drivers
25 March 17 R44 Wellington 1 Driver
1 Passenger
01 April 17 N2 Riviersonderend/Caledon 2 Drivers
3 Passengers
01 April 17 Riebeeck West Riebeeck kasteel road 1 Driver
01 April 17 Therons Pass Ceres 1 Driver
1 Passenger
01 Apr 17 Springveld, Brackenhill, Knysna Km 38,4 2 Drivers
1 Passenger
01 Apr 17 Rawsonville/Worcester N1 1 Driver
01 Apr 17 N2 Dassiesfontein near Caledon 1 Driver
3 Passengers
01 Apr 17 N7 Malmesbury 1 driver
1 Passenger


These reported head-on collisions claimed a total of 35 lives since the beginning of the year, 16 drivers and 19 passengers.

Addressing these senseless crashes requires an approach focussed on drivers and changing their behaviour towards adherence to the rules of the road. Many will witness reckless and irresponsible driving on our roads on a daily basis, and even more have seen their disastrous consequences. Obeying the rules of the road is a non-negotiable, and we will be dedicating resources towards addressing errant road use that we know cause the horrific crashes that we see.

The main causes of these crashes remain reckless and irresponsible road use (ignoring road rules, including drinking and driving), as well as fatigue; each required specifically tailored interventions targeted at drivers.

Easter fatality statistics

The last three Easter periods (from 2014) have seen high fatalities over the Easter weekend that are compounded by the the ever-increasing number of vehicles, bound for various destinations during this time. Over the past few Easter weekends, the fatalities have been:

  17 April -21 April 2014 2 April  – 6 April 
24 March – 28 March 2016
Class of Fatality      
Cyclist 1 6 5
Driver 3    
Motor cyclist 4 2  
Passengers 6 8 9
Pedestrians 13 14 15
Total 27 30 29


Smart enforcement yields results

Over the past few years, the Department of Transport and Public Works has been employing technological innovations to boost our traffic law enforcement efforts. We continue to see positive results from our smart enforcement efforts which we will be expanding in the near future. Some smart enforcement initiatives include the:

  • Average Speed Over Distance (ASOD) camera enforcement network, which is live at various locations of the N2, as well as along the R61, the R27, and most of the N1. The total coverage by the system is 452 km. On all of the stretches where ASOD has been implemented, we have seen decreased speeds and fewer transgressions on average. We have also seen a decrease in speed-related crashes that were commonplace along the R61 before the implementation of the ASOD system.
  • Hand-held devices for traffic officers which were first introduced in December 2015, and have been used by traffic officers in the field, as a fast, information-verifying tool that will assist enforcement. The devices were a first of their kind in South Africa, and allow traffic officers real-time access to the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) camera system, which is linked to the eNaTIS database where all vehicle and driver information is stored. The cameras ‘read’ the number plate of a passing vehicle, immediately relaying details of that vehicle’s make, class, registration status (outstanding licence fees), roadworthy status, offences, warrants, and ownership to a central back office. This information can then immediately be relayed, via an alert on the device, back to traffic officers in the field, positioned close to the ANPR, allowing them to stop a vehicle that has been flagged by the device for having offences attached to it. This system has been a force multiplier for our traffic officers on the field, making real-time enforcement possible.

We are currently in the process of installing dashcams in unmarked vehicles which will be deployed to hotspot areas across the province to tackle reckless and negligent driving, such as ignoring road signs and overtaking on solid barrier lines or on blind rises. Officers in these vehicles can then immediately arrest, and not just fine, drivers caught driving recklessly. The footage captured on the dashcams can then be used as evidence against these drivers that continue to place the lives of many in danger.

An Integrated Operational Plan

The Easter Operational Plan continues to be evidence-driven, and has identified high-risk routes that have seen some of the more serious crashes over the Easter period in recent years.

The plan is a phased approach that will span from the 15 March 2017 until the 30 June 2017.

Interventions and resources will be directed strategically to these areas to target the errant behaviour that causes fatal crashes, namely excessive alcohol consumption, fatigue, and excessive speeding, which are often both causal and aggravating factors to injury or death.

Comparative statistics over the past three years show that enforcement officers have stopped many vehicles and screened drivers for alcohol and fatigue.

Comparative Easter Enforcement 17-21 April 2014 2-6 April 2015

24-28 March 2016

Vehicles stopped and checked 30 612 24 341 22 369
Section 56 notices issued  2 965 2 538

2 250

Speed prosecutions  4 786 1 040 2 718
Arrest – Driving under the influence of alcohol 68 66


Vehicles discontinued  25 34


Vehicles impounded  9 20 4


Operational Highlights for the past 3 years

  • During the 2014 Easter weekend 2 arrests were made for stolen vehicles, illicit cigarettes were confiscated to amount of R31 500 and highest alcohol reading was 1.33mg/l.
  • During the 2015 Easter weekend a driver was arrested for driving at the excessive speed of 177 km/h in 120 zone, 13 drivers were arrested for false documentation and 6 drivers arrested for reckless and negligent driving.
  • During the 2016 Easter weekend 2 drivers were arrested for false documentation, 3 drivers arrested for Reckless and Negligent driving and 1 driver arrested for excessive speed 129 km/h in 80 zone.

We will be conducting various joint operations across the Province targeted at both private and public transport, focussing on issues such as:

  • Driver fitness
  • Vehicle fitness
  • Compliance
  • Load management
  • Speed
  • Dangerous driver behaviour
  • Pedestrian behaviour

Our Overberg District Easter Safety Plan in Caledon, which is part of a greater plan for the region which was developed last year, has been in place for the past 6 months. The regional plan was initiated to respond to the specific safety challenges identified in the Overberg district with regard to road safety. Our municipal partners and Safely Home have been instrumental to its success.

Since the plans implementation, we have seen fatalities decrease comparatively by 33% (from 39 deaths in 2015/2016, to 26 deaths in 2016/2017). We will continue to build on this progress as we head to this Easter period.


Our Provincial Traffic Services will work closely with our road safety partners and road users across the province. We hope that our collective efforts will yield a safer Easter period for all road users travelling to and from their various destinations.

We are very serious about adopting a no nonsense approach over this upcoming Easter period. Drivers must be warned that their errant and life-threatening behaviour on our roads will land them in jail. We cannot continue to see lives lost so senselessly on our roads as a result of dangerous driver behaviour and general lawlessness. We are grateful for our partnership with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), who are committed to helping us prosecute those that continue to threaten the safety of others on our roads.

We will continue to employ innovation and technology in making our roads safer for the many that use them. Working together over this Easter period is the only way we are likely to improve safety and decrease the number of lives lost senselessly on our roads.

Media Enquiries: 

Siphesihle Dube
Spokesperson for the Minister of Transport and Public Works, Donald Grant
Cell: 084 233 3811
Tel: 021 483 8954
Fax: 021 483 2217
E-mail: Siphesihle.Dube@westerncape.gov.za