Festive season deaths decrease as Safely Home efforts intensify | Western Cape Government

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Festive season deaths decrease as Safely Home efforts intensify

23 February 2017

Statement by Donald Grant, Minister of Transport and Public Works and Kenny Africa, Provincial Traffic Chief 

This past December 2016/ January 2017 festive season has been one of the busiest we have had on our roads. Thousands of vehicles traversed the province as holiday makers made their way to their various destinations. The number of vehicles on our roads is continually on the rise both nationally and provincially. As of January 2017, a total of 1 930 597  vehicles were registered in the Western Cape. Amidst all the activity, however, were our dedicated and hard-working Provincial and Municipal Traffic Services, our Safely Home team, and all of our road safety partners. This past holiday period has been a time of great partnerships, between us as road traffic authorities, and the very many citizens of the Western Cape who have heeded our calls to join us in making our roads safer, and in adopting safe behavioural practices when taking to the roads.

As with any other busy period on our roads in each calendar year, all our joint road safety efforts and interventions have continued to be guided by information-based strategy, that continues to make our roads safer, and lessen the number of lives lost senselessly as a result of reckless and irresponsible road use.

As we plan and implement what we believe to be sound road safety practices, we continue to draw valuable lessons from festive seasons past, placing us in good stead in our continued efforts at reducing the unacceptably high fatalities on our roads. Our approach remains focussed, dedicated, and informed, while using all available information and emergent trends to guide the decisions we take and the strategies we adopt. Together with the citizens of the Western Cape who continue to prioritise their safety on our roads as well as that of others, we continue to see steady progress in our fatality rates, compared to previous periods.

We acknowledge this achievement today fully aware of the work that must still be done to make our roads safer. While the number of people killed remains unacceptably high, we remain committed to changing that and continuing to save more lives.

The festive season is measured from 1 December 2016 to 31 January 2017.

Comparative Festive Seasons breakdown:

1 December 2015 to 31 January 2016

 Road User






 Fell off Vehicle












1 December 2016 to 31 January 2017

 Road User






 Fell off Vehicle












This past festive season saw a 3% decrease in overall fatalities (down from 256 to 248). A notable 26% decrease was recorded in the number of driver deaths (down from 53 to 39 this past festive season), while pedestrian deaths increased slightly from 102 to 111 over the same period.

Of the total 248 fatalities recoded over this past festive season, most were recorded in the Cape Town Metropole area. Our awareness initiatives are specifically targeted to areas where the most incidents occur.

Safely Home activities over the Festive Season

As with all busy holiday periods, one of the main things authorities must watch out for is the scourge of drinking and driving (as well as drinking and walking). Alcohol and road use simply don’t mix, as is evidenced by the significant role that alcohol continues to play in a majority of crashes that we see on our roads. The consumption of alcohol, even in relatively small amounts, increases the risk of being involved in a crash for motorists and pedestrians. Not only does alcohol impair processes critical to safe road use, such as vision and reaction time, it is also associated with poor judgement and so is often linked to other high-risk road use behaviours such as speeding or not using seat-belts.

Our road safety initiative, Safely Home, launched the “Ubuthakathi” campaign which is part of our “Alcohol and Roads Don’t Mix” theme, focussing on pedestrians that are under the influence.

Statistics have shown that more than 600 pedestrians are killed on Western Cape roads every year. This is 50 per month or about 11 per week. They represent 49% of the total fatalities, per the most recent figures for 2016. Most of these pedestrians are killed on weekend nights and are under the influence of alcohol (61% where Blood Alcohol Content is known). Too often the driver who hits them is too.

The “Ubuthakathi” campaign was a multimedia campaign spanning TV, radio, billboards, and various other online platforms.

The campaign consisted of:

  • 152 flightings on SABC 1, SABC 2, etv, and DSTV,
  • Over 89 000 YouTube views, 34 000 Facebook views, 12 200 other video views, 102 000 Twitter impressions,
  • 10 000 flightings in cinemas,
  • 32 activations across the province at various shopping malls, taxi ranks, and taverns, namely in the Caledon and Grabouw,
  •  34 recorded interviews, and an additional 111 recorded spots with Chief Kenny Africa and Road Safety Management Director, Mark Jansen,
  • 89 other generic #BoozeFreeRoads spots
  • Variable Message signs on the N1, N2, and the R300, and 
  •  426 print and electronic billboards, including at taverns, containers, and taxis.

We made every effort to maximise the reach of the campaign and increased awareness around the dangers of mixing alcohol with the roads. We are confident that more and more people are beginning to think differently when it comes to how they conduct themselves on our roads, and hope to see more and more people make the life-saving choice of being responsible road users.

The campaign is still live on the Safely Home website, www.safelyhome.westerncape.gov.za, twitter: @WCGovSafelyHome hashtag #BoozeFreeRoads. The hashtag was specifically targeted at both motorists and pedestrians, with drinking and driving, as well as drinking and walking as both are proving to be a deadly combination on our roads.

Provincial Traffic Enforcement efforts over the Festive Season

The Western Cape Government made every effort to ensure safe roads over the festive season. Our Provincial and Municipal traffic officers made every effort to ensure efficient and effective enforcement across the province, particularly in hotspot areas where incidents have been known to occur. Operations over the festive season were squarely focussed on:

1.     Driving under the influence of alcohol

2.     Excessive speed

3.     Average Speed Over Distance (ASOD)

4.     Driver Fatigue management

5.     Driver/vehicle fitness

6.     Distracted driving

7.     Pedestrian safety

8.     Seatbelt compliance  

9.     Inter provincial operations

10.  Licence plates

11.  Safe following distances

12.  Transportation of illegal substances/illicit cigarettes

This past festive season, together with all the other enforcement technology innovations that we have implemented in the past (like the Average Speed Over Distance camera enforcement system, and the hand-held devices assisting officers on the field), we made use of mobile vehicle weighing equipment that were deployed in areas where they were needed most.

Key partnerships with the SAPS, Municipal traffic authorities and the Metro Police, the Western Cape Government and the City of Cape Town, SARS, the NPA, SANRAL, the RTMC, Home Affairs, and our various media partners, have been essential to the success of our operations over the festive season, and will be key to all future endeavours.

Enforcement activities from 1 December 2016 to 31 January 2017:

  • 173 K78 roadblocks were conducted, with a total of 287 686 vehicles stopped, checking for things such as overloading, fatigue, and alcohol.
  • 81 360 drivers were screened for alcohol, while 82 511 vehicles were weighed.
  • A total of 6 255 speed offences were speed recorded.
  • Of the vehicles stopped and checked, a total of 332 were discontinued, and another 118 were impounded.
  • In total, 426 arrests were made for offences that included driving under the influence of alcohol.

Apart from roadside activities, traffic officials also promoted visible traffic policing and operational readiness, including the further implementation of our successful “sticker project”, targeted specifically at public transport vehicles that embarked on long trips across the province, and beyond, transporting thousands of holiday-makers to their various destinations.

The lessons we continue to learn as enforcement authorities from this past festive season, and other busy periods passed, continue to inform our approaches and interventions for the future. We will continue to make use of our limited resources strategically, to yield the most optimal results for the people of the Western Cape.


While the numbers remain relatively high, particularly pedestrian deaths, the trend continues to move in a downward direction.

Through our Safely Home campaign, we have continued to raise awareness, change behaviour, and make a noticeable difference to the carnage on our roads. I must commend our enforcement officers who work tirelessly and for long hours to ensure safety on our roads. I was able to join some of them over the festive season on our roads at various locations, including at a December 30th roadblock on the N2 in Somerset West. What I witnessed was a cohesive, focussed, and dedicated traffic enforcement team that is committed to making our roads safer. Our men and women in blue continue to be the unsung heroes in our efforts to save lives on our roads; I am proud of the work that they do 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Our statistics, and responses to our campaigns, continue to show a gradual change in behaviour and attitudes towards road safety amongst road users in the province. Together, we are continuing to make our roads safer, and are seeing and increased number of citizens take responsibility for their lives, as well as the lives of others.

We offer our sincere thanks to all our enforcement officers who spent the season on the roads saving lives. We also extend our deepest condolences to the families and friends of the 248 people who tragically lost their lives on our roads this past festive season. We will continue to work hard, day and night, to ensure that less and less lives are lost senselessly due to reckless and irresponsible road use.

Media Enquiries: 

Kenny Africa
Provincial Traffic Chief
Department of Transport and Public Works
Tel: 021 483 5114/ 7823
Cell: 084 562 4574
Email: Kenneth.Africa@westerncape.gov.za

Siphesihle Dube
Spokesperson for the Minister of Transport and Public Works, Donald Grant
Tel: 021 483 8954
Cell: 084 233 3811
Email: siphesihle.dube@westerncape.gov.za