WC Festive Season statistics: road user behaviour still deeply problematic | Western Cape Government


WC Festive Season statistics: road user behaviour still deeply problematic

26 January 2024

Media release by Ricardo Mackenzie, Western Cape Minister of Mobility 

Between 1 December 2023 and 11 January 2024, there were 164 traffic fatalities in the Western Cape compared to 131 fatalities in the previous year. These overall numbers for the province are made up of figures recorded on provincial roads and municipal roads. 

On municipal roads, there were 108 fatalities, up from 68 fatalities last year. On provincial roads, we had 56 fatalities, compared to 63 fatalities over the 2022-2023 festive season.  

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 user. Simultaneously, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to everyone who played a role in our Festive Season Road Safety campaign.  

I am proud of all our teams, including those that rendered a support function, for their perseverance and dedication over a challenging festive season period. These men and women have sacrificed time with their families to keep our residents and visitors safe during this busy period. We are thankful that none of our officers sustained any injuries while executing their duties. 

Our Provincial Traffic Officers stopped 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 – a mammoth effort. 

For the first time in years, 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 to stop drivers for enforced rest breaks during their travel, while Provincial Regulatory Entity officials checked public transport documentation and compliance. 

Our Road Safety Officers and Land Transport Safety Management team then 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, 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 so they can continue their journey. These interventions were done with care and good humour while making sure that tired drivers would not endanger themselves and those around them.  

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), 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. 

I also believe that our investments in technology and integrated systems are paying off. Our Traffic Management team has utilised available data and system mechanisms to increase the number of errant motorists apprehended for various offences, and they were able to effectively plan and deploy resources over critical locations to meet the objectives of the festive season period.  

This technology also enables our verified daily statistics on fatalities and other key indicators, which inform both National and Provincial oversight, and allow for proactive re-assessment of deployments if necessary. 

Other noteworthy statistics over the festive season include: 

  • 12 arrests for bribery – I applaud these officials for taking a stand against corruption in our province! 
  • 4,512 fines issued for tyre defects – this is a critical issue considering that there were several crashes with tyre bursts as the alleged cause. 
  • 105 arrests for fraudulent documentation – this is a concerning increase from previous years. 
  • 13,781 seatbelt offences – including drivers and front and rear passengers. 
  • 13,860 unlicensed vehicle offences – this is a significant increase from 8,579 last year. 
  • 4 arrests of pedestrians – instances where the pedestrian is a source of danger on the road. 

The Western Cape Festive Season strategy is not just about traffic law enforcement.  

We offered free vehicle testing ahead of the festive season, starting from October, to assist drivers with checking their vehicle’s 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.  

An extensive communication drive was rolled out via our Departmental and Safely Home communication channels to educate road users about their individual responsibility to prevent injuries and deaths on our roads.  

Many fatal traffic incidents could be prevented by simple actions, which served as my call to action over this period: check your vehicle and tyres, buckle up, do NOT drink and drive, do NOT speed or take chances overtaking dangerously, and stop and rest every 200km. 

I am extremely concerned about the continuing vulnerability of pedestrians, who accounted for over 50% of all fatalities. Furthermore, 22 of these pedestrian deaths were ‘hit-and-runs.’ It is the responsibility of the driver to report such an incident, even if they are unable to stop due to safety concerns. 

We were equally worried that many motorists seemed to be particularly careless this festive season, which also saw an increase in the arrests for reckless and negligent driving.  

As I share this feedback from the festive season, our Traffic Management team is already preparing for an increase in travel over the Easter and school holiday period, using these data and learnings to inform the tactical plans. As we prepare to keep everyone safe while they travel, I sincerely hope that road users will likewise be preparing to travel safely. 

The actions required to prevent further senseless road deaths are simple – whether it’s checking vehicle roadworthiness or buckling up. We all have to take responsibility for turning the tide on this epidemic. 

Finally, it has been a great pleasure for me today to meet the new Class of 2024 Traffic Students at our Gene Louw Traffic College. Their enthusiasm and commitment give me a sense of optimism for the future of road safety in our province. 

Media Enquiries: 

Rebecca Campbell 

Spokesperson for Minister Ricardo Mackenzie 

076 783 2583 or Rebecca.Campbell@westerncape.gov.za