Despite December Carnage, Festive Season Crash Fatalities Down by 8% | Western Cape Government


Despite December Carnage, Festive Season Crash Fatalities Down by 8%

17 February 2013

Joint Statement by Robin Carlisle, Minister of Transport and Public Works and Dan Plato, Minister of Community Safety

The December 2012/January 2013 festive season has been one of commendable hard work by Safely Home and all our road safety partners.

We have learnt valuable lessons and have moved closer to our goal of halving road deaths in the province by December 2014. Our approach remains aggressive and focused, using all available information and emergent trends to guide the decisions we take.

Together, through our efforts and road users heeding our calls to be responsible on our roads, we have achieved a cumulative 29% reduction in road deaths since the beginning of 2009. While this is an achievement to be celebrated, we still have a long way to go.

The festive season is measured from 1 December 2012 to 31 January 2013.


December 2011


December 2012      


January 2012 


January 2013       







The earlier days of December saw an alarmingly high number of lives being lost at a rate of five per day. Passengers overtook pedestrians as the leading class of fatalities in that period. This immediately alerted us to a serious, and deadly, lack of seatbelt compliance. Passengers, particularly in the rear seats were clearly not buckling-up.

In addition, on major roads, there was clear evidence of travelling “TOO FAST - TOO FAR - TOO LONG", leading to the frequent unlawful overtaking across the barrier line by drivers who were often fatigued.

As evidence became available the following enforcement actions were intensified:

  1. Provincial, Metro and municipal traffic services refocused their efforts to clamp down on seatbelt violations, making it an integral part of our enforcement efforts, alongside drunk driving and speed.
  2. Fatigue Management efforts targeting long distance mini-bus taxis were extended to all classes of vehicles. Thus, over the festive season:
    • 6 093 vehicles were stopped to screen drivers for fatigue.
    • 239 of them were parked and made to rest.
    • Since December 2011, a total of 22 738 vehicles have now been screened for fatigue, with 2 757 being parked and made to rest.
  3. Average Speed Over Distance (ASOD) camera enforcement network’s second phase (Beaufort West to Three Sisters) was launched. Our ASOD system now covers a total of 103.3 km of the Province’s most dangerous roads.  Prior to ASOD implementation (first phase) on the R61, the death toll on that stretch was 100. In 2012, this figure was down to 6 deaths. Over this festive season, the network enabled us to detect a total of 60 excessive speeding offences.  In addition, the network was able to detect a total of 426 vehicle related offences (unroadworthy vehicles, number plates, etc.), and 24 driver related offences (including driver’s licence and PrDP offences). The highest average speed recorded on the network for this period was 178 km/h.
  4. We launched a massive media and advertising campaign, including our Safely Home Road Safety Reward offering R50 000 in cash prizes to two fine free motorists over the festive season. This initiative was part of the Western Cape Government’s behavioural economics project aimed at encouraging responsible behaviour. Behavioural economics will be applied to other policy issues in the future.

More enforcement during the Festive Season Road Safety Campaign:

  • The total number of prosecutions for speed offences over this festive season was 53 635. The highest speed recorded was 210 km/h.
  • A total of 71 197 vehicles were stopped at roadblocks, compared with 53 910 the previous year – a 32% increase year-on-year.
  • 34 384 drivers were screened for alcohol and 315 were arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence. The highest reading was 1.66 mg/1000 ml which is seven times over the legal limit.
  • 68 101 vehicles were screened for overloading.
  • 44 571 vehicles were weighed at the province’s weigh bridges, over 4 500 vehicles more than the previous year. 
  • A total 421 arrests were effected for the various offences.
  • 13 inter-provincial operations with our counterparts in the Eastern and Northern Cape and Free State.

Western Cape Fatality Statistics

Year-on-year, we continue to see the deaths on the Province’s roads decrease and are confident that we will in fact reach our target of halving road deaths by the end of 2014, and continue to save the many lives that would otherwise be lost so senselessly.

See Cumulative Comparison Graph

Our efforts have seen an 8% reduction in the past festive season fatalities compared to the December 2011/January 2012 period.  Over this festive season, 236 lives were lost compared to the 257 people killed over the same period last year. The festive season figures show:

  • Pedestrians still account for the highest proportion of the fatalities, 97, amounting to 41% of the deaths.
  • Even more alarming however is the fact that 51% (120) of the deaths were people inside vehicles, namely drivers (45) and passengers (75).

Had it not been for our joint seat-belt interventions, this number of passenger/driver deaths would certainly have been much higher. These efforts will continue as buckling-up is, in virtually all cases, the difference between life and death when people are involved in horrific crashes.

See Category of Road User Graph

Since 2008 till December 2012, Pedestrian deaths have gone down from 843 to 586 (31%) but still account for 47% of the total fatalities. The only class of fatalities to increase during this period is motorcyclists, up by 33% from 63 in 2008 to 84 in 2012.

The comparative figures for December 2008 to December 2012 are:

  • 2008:   156
  • 2009:   146
  • 2010:   160
  • 2011:   153
  • 2012:   157

Comparative January figures are:

  • 2008:   114
  • 2009:   147
  • 2010:   118
  • 2011:   109
  • 2012:   104
  • 2013:    79 

January 2013 saw the loss of 79 lives (down from 104 for the same period last year), the lowest figure for any month since 2009 when we launched our Safely Home campaign.

While the numbers are still high, especially pedestrian deaths, the trend is downward and moving in the right direction. Through our Safely Home campaign, we are steadily lowering the loss of life on our roads, thanks to the hard work and concerted efforts of our traffic officers. The Western Cape is the only province to offer a 24 hour, seven day a week provincial traffic service. Together with the ever-increasing responsible road-user behaviour by members of the public and citizens taking responsibility for safe road-user behaviour with increased law enforcement we can make our roads safer and give life to our motto of “Better Together”.

We offer our sincere thanks to all our men and women who spent the season on the roads saving lives, including Provincial Traffic officers, municipal traffic officers and South African Police Service members who collaborate on road blocks and law enforcement operations. We also extend our condolences to the families and friends of the 236 people that tragically lost their lives on our roads this festive season.  

Media Enquiries: 

Siphesihle Dube
Media Liaison Officer
Ministry of Transport and Public Works
Tel: 021 483 8954
Cell: 084 233 3811

Mireille Wenger
Head of Ministry
Ministry of Community Safety
Western Cape Government
Cell: 073 814 9393