Decline in fatalities on Western Cape roads this festive season
Twenty-three (23) % decline in fatalities from 1 December 2019 to 15 January 2020
We have seen a significant influx in vehicular traffic from all parts of the country into the Western Cape, when compared to the previous year’s figures. This change is largely attributable to the change in drought conditions being experienced.
Likewise, many Western Cape residents travel on our main roads as they leave the province to spend some time with their families in other parts of the country.
School and industry closures, as well as their reopening, including long weekends, also add to the significant increase in traffic volumes.
Cumulatively this adds pressure on all law enforcement agencies to implement our operational mandate to ensure the effective and safe traffic flow on our road network.
I would like to use this opportunity to thank all law enforcement employees for their hard work during this very busy time.
Integrated operations were critical in the planning process to effectively control and monitor larger traffic volumes on specific dates, which over the past two years have spread over the last three consecutive weeks in December and the first two weeks in January.
The key factors that contributed to the successful implementation of the directorates festive season plan includes:
- The interrogation and analysing of data intelligence as derived from our systems that led to our effective tactical and operational planning which led to focus driven operations throughout the Western Cape Province.
- The commitment, dedication and sacrifice of our traffic officer workforce in conjunction with operational partners during the festive season that contributed to good cooperative governance and the reduction of fatalities in the Western Cape Province.
- The law abiding citizens that obeyed the rules of the road together with good driver behaviour that contributed to the reduction of fatalities.
- The commendable drivers and operators of public transport vehicles who ensured that vehicles were in a roadworthy condition and that drivers were mentally and physically fit to transport commuters safely to and from their destinations. This is confirmed through our verified statistics that the Western Cape had no fatalities recorded for public transport vehicles.
The Department of Transport and Public Works have an official agreement with the Department of Health to provide us with road accident crash fatality statistics daily by 07:00 daily in a CSV file format as derived from their Forensic Pathology system. These are the SAPS CAS numbers as received from the SAPS investigating officer who hand it over to Forensic Pathology at the crash scene in order to record fatalities.
The verification principle requires Provincial Traffic Services to follow up with the respective SAPS investigating officers to verify fatalities on a daily basis to ensure that both the CAS numbers given from the CAS system and Forensic Pathology corresponds with the initial fatality total and amended accordingly. The 30-day principle of fatalities takes into account when a crash occurred and whether injured persons succumb fatalities in hospital within 30 days. Only then it will be counted as part of the fatalities for the period under review.
The verified fatality statistics from 1 December 2019 till 15 January 2020 is 160 fatalities compared to 207 deaths in 2018. This figure is based on the above 30-day principle of fatalities.
This is a reduction of 23 percent in overall road fatalities for the province.
A notable decrease was recorded on overall provincial roads, with 115 fatalities in 2018/19 compared to 52 deaths in 2019/20.
Regrettably, fatalities recorded on municipal roads increased from 92 in 2018/19 to 108 in 2019/20.
As soon as I became aware of the situation on municipal roads, I embarked on a roadshow and visited district municipalities to address my concerns with the respective Mayors. During our meetings, we presented the statistics to the municipalities and discussed road safety initiatives and law enforcement integration plans for each municipality. My initiative was well received, and I am planning to have a separate dialogue with all Mayors to look at all gaps that we identified so that we can work together to find solutions.
As part of the pre-festive agreements with the National Department of Transport and the RTMC, daily submissions on verified Provincial Traffic Services were done.
In total, 5 445 719 vehicles entered the province in 2019 compared to 4 908 481 vehicles in 2018.
Provincial Traffic stopped and checked 218 017 vehicles in 2019 compared to 132 760 in 2018.
The number of vehicles weighed at weighbridges increased to 54 898 in 2019 compared to 36 944 in 2018.
Traffic Law Enforcement Operations/Roadblocks conducted increased to 2 081 in 2019 compared to 1 242 in the previous year in 2018.
The number of speed operations increased to 1007 in 2019 compared to 652 in 2018.
The number of drunken driving operations also increased to 1074 in 2019 compared to 591 in 2018. Additionally, 493 people were arrested for drunken driving during the Festive Season.
The number of discontinues vehicles also increased from 823 in 2018 to 996 vehicles in 2019.
Additionally, 35 motorists were arrested for trying to bribe traffic officers when they were arrested for a variety of offences ranging from overloading, operating public transport vehicles with no operating licences or contrary to permits amongst others.
Provincial Traffic services also arrested 19 drunk pedestrians on our roads during the past Festive Season.
The highest speed and highest alcohol readings for the Festive Season is as follow:
- 173km/h in a 120km zone in the Beaufort West service area
- 187km/h in a 100km zone in the Laingsburg service area
- 125km/h in a 80km zone in the Vredendal service area
- 114km/h in a 70km zone in the Knysna service area
- 104km/h in a 60km zone in the Knysna service area
The highest alcohol reading recorded is 1.84mg/1000ml which is 7 times over the legal limit in the Mossel Bay traffic centre.
While every death is one too many, this represents a significant year-on-year improvement of the work done by our Provincial Traffic Services who conduct 24/7 operations on provincial roads. No one should be killed or injured on our roads
I am, however, seriously concerned about the high number of pedestrians who are dying on our roads. In total, 74 pedestrians were killed on our roads between 1 December 2019 and 15 January 2020.
Specific tactical and operational planning and deployment during the past Festive Season was critical to ensure the safety of road users with the focus on the reduction of fatalities of all pedestrians, motorist and passengers entering and leaving our province.
We successfully increased our traffic officer work force in August 2019 with the graduation of 41 traffic officers.
The upgrading of our system applications on our handheld devices, were used in conjunction with our fleet of 9 unmarked and 305 patrol vehicles fully fitted with new patrol radios, officer in distress activation, tracking system and in vehicle technology to perform a multitude of functions like live camera surveillance, automatic number plate recognition, public transport operating licence details, unlicensed motor vehicles and stolen vehicles.
These vehicles were tactically deployed to the identified hazardous locations based all previous road crash and fatality data that we have been collecting.
South Africa is a signatory of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and the Brasilia Declaration on Road Safety, committing support to reducing global road traffic fatalities by 50% by 2020.
The 2012 National Development Plan established a target reduction of 50% in injury deaths (all causes) by 50% by 2030. However, I have set a new record for the Western Cape to reduce our overall road user fatality rate by 50% on or before 2024.
The National Department of Transport and the Road Traffic Management Corporation convened several engagements prior to the start of the Festive Season to develop the 365 Road Safety Calendar, with specific national coordinated operational mandates. The agreed operational mandates included the minimum numbers of specific interventions such as drinking and driving, chain speed enforcement, public transport operations and overload control mandatory throughout the country with specified objectives and timelines.
In addition to this, daily reporting on verified data from each Province was requested which enabled the National Department of Transport to provide all citizens with an accurate mid Festive Season account on the status of law enforcement achievements.
With the introduction of the Data Intelligence Hub which contains an effective set of applications and various data links, the Western Cape could source critical information as part of a tactical outlook to change our normal methodology of Traffic Law Enforcement within the province, compared to the same period of the previous year but also to assist in identifying common patterns leading up to the operational planning and the effective deployment of our resources during the Festive Season period.
All five districts could access and extrapolate the available data sets to enhance our operational planning and ensure the deployment of our human resources to specific locations at specific time periods to promote efficacy and to deal with specific interventions that were supported by our Provincial operational mandates.
Most of the interventions that were identified by National had already been planned and reflected on the Provincial quarterly operational plans, which significantly exceeded the National norm that was determined and placed the Western Cape in a better position to execute the identified tactical focus areas.
Prior discussions and agreements with the South African Police Services who remained our primary operational partner during this period, ensured full commitment and the deployment of their human resource allocations as agreed.
The Western Cape Provincial Traffic Services forms part of the Inter Government Relations with our Neighbouring Provinces of the Free State, Eastern and Northern Cape. All planned cross border operations were successfully executed as planned with focus driven results.
The operational planning took place with the Local Authority Traffic Services within the Western cape and other key stakeholders in all five regional District Road Traffic Management Coordinating Committees.
Over the past years we have dealt with various situations which is beyond our control such as the closing dates for schools and industries which has a negative impact on the volumes we experience over the Festive period.
Previous years experiences, lessons learnt and being equipped with critical data enabled us to get a clearer picture as to when and where we needed to focus our attentions to mitigate identified locations by effectively deploying our traffic officers. The approval by the department of additional overtime funding, and the agreement by the National Department of Transport to exceed the 30 percent overtime threshold added value to the deployment and had a significant impact on the visibility and planned operations for this period. Our deployment of an eight-hour shift was changed to twelve hours to increase the number of officers at any given time.
I am very proud of the work done by our law enforcement officers who worked around the clock to reduce the number of fatalities on our roads.
This phenomenal achievement would not have happened without the hard work, sacrifice of the men and women from law enforcement, road safety and all the emergency services.
I appeal to road users to respect the rule of law and know there’s no place to hide in the Western Cape. We have eyes everywhere.