Western Cape records 15% decline in road fatalities | Western Cape Government

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Western Cape records 15% decline in road fatalities

28 January 2021

The 2020/21 Festive Season was the most challenging season in our history.

Despite all the challenges we faced, we managed to record a 15 percent reduction in road fatalities between 1 December 2020 and 11 January 2021. As stated by Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula last week, this is the biggest reduction in the country.

Just like the rest of the world, South Africa faced the COVID-19 pandemic for the greater part of 2020. One of the outcomes was a need for a radical change in the lifestyle and behaviour of South Africans.

Provincial Traffic Officers  were classified as front line essential service workers and worked around the clock to help curb the spread of the coronavirus as part of traffic management and law enforcement  through various interventions with multiple role players.

In addition to their primary responsibility of reducing fatalities and injuries on our roads by rendering an effective tactical and operational 24/7 service, they had an added responsibility of restricting and monitoring the movement of road users by strictly applying all applicable Disaster Management Act regulations and directives as well as contributing through educational safety to the awareness of the pandemic of staff and motorists.

 They ensured compliance in terms of the prescribed COVID-19 protocols to protect all administrative and operational staff including Road Safety practitioners in curbing the spread of the virus within the workplace and during operational deployments. The necessary amendments were made to effectively regulate revised operational directives, and safety protocols.  An adequate supply of all relevant prescribed PPE items were issued to all operational staff which included the regularly cleaning and sanitising of patrol vehicles.

After consulting the Department of Health in March 2020, the Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works immediately suspended alcohol breath testing in the province due to the major risk it could create in terms spreading the virus, and more importantly to promote the safety of our traffic officers.  The management of drinking and driving was still however stringently applied throughout the province by our officials during all planned interventions.

The Western Cape’s Tactical Traffic Law Enforcement plan made provision for and took into consideration the alarming rise in COVID-19 cases during the festive season when the movement of road users was at its highest.

Traffic law enforcement interventions and methodologies ensured the flexibility needed to adapt to Lockdown level 3, which was announced by the President on 28 December 2020 in respect of the resurgence to easily adapt our existing approved Festive Season plan 2020/21 to help curb the surge of the virus while still rendering effective and efficient Traffic Law Enforcement throughout the Province.  

Festive Season focus areas

During November and December 2020, the Directorate Traffic Training and Development successfully completed a Traffic Student recruitment drive across the province in order to increase our traffic officer capacity by filling the 12-month Traffic Officer qualification course which is scheduled to commence next week, on the 1st of February 2021.

The Sub Directorate Quality Management and Evaluation evaluated several major Traffic Law Enforcement and Road Safety interventions within the province based on the approved Festive Season Plan.

The purpose of evaluation is to provide a systematic collection and an objective analysis of the integrated interventions to assess the relevance, effectiveness and efficiency of the approved Festive Season plan and to generate in-depth evidence for improving performance and decision making. 

The Directorate Road Safety Management executed road safety education, communication and awareness interventions at various Traffic Law Enforcement operations focussing on:

  • adult pedestrians
  • freight awareness
  • wellness and fatigue
  • public transport driver and vehicle fitness
  • seatbelts
  • alcohol and speed awareness.

Operational Mandate

  • Promote a safe and reliable road user environment on our road networks.
  • Prevent all possible loss of life and road user crashes and fatalities.
  • Regulate pedestrian behaviour and reduce fatalities.
  • Encourage voluntary road user compliance during the festive season.
  • Apply the general rule of law and compliance in terms of the Disaster Management Act and Regulations

Despite the announcement of Lockdown level 3 and the resurgence of the virus, the Western Cape still experienced a significant influx and outflow of vehicular traffic to and from all parts of the country on our main routes during this December and January period.

School and industry closure and opening dates presented a staggered movement of traffic volumes which added additional pressure on all law enforcement agencies to implement the necessary operational deployment and mandates to control traffic. This is in order to ensure an effective and safe traffic flow on all road networks so that all road users reach their destinations safely and unharmed. 

Our historical data and information played a pivotal role in our tactical planning processes to integrate our specific operational deployment to effectively control and monitor larger traffic volumes on specific dates. These were spread over the last three consecutive weeks in December 2020 and the first two consecutive weeks in January 2021.

Constructive and meaningful interaction between all three Directorates within the Chief Directorate: Traffic Management was achieved through a collaborative approach to integrate at specified major operations identified from the Festive Season Plan. 

The Integrated Festive Season Plan focused on the following critical areas:

  • Fatigue management
  • Public Transport
  • Weighbridge/Freight awareness operations
  • Driver and vehicle fitness operations
  • Alcohol enforcement
  • Moving violations
  • Speed
  • Seatbelts (Driver, front and rear)
  • Pedestrians
  • Inter-Provincial Corridor operations (EC/NC/WC)
  • Integrated SAPS operations -DMA operations

Our Active Operational Partners were the: 

  • Neighbouring Provinces (EC, NC)
  • South African Police Services (SAPS)
  • Emergency Medical Services (EMS)
  • South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL)
  • Forensic Pathology Services (FPS)
  • Fire and Rescue Services

General Operational Challenges

  • COVID-19 pandemic and its implementation
  • High traffic volumes and congestion
  • Lack of co-operation, assistance and integration from Local Authorities Traffic Services
  • Fatigue management (Drivers and Personnel)
  • Pedestrian Movement and Safety
  • Management of Road Incidents and Crashes
  • Drinking and driving, Moving Violations, Excessive Speed
  • Increase in motorists offering bribes to our officers

Technology and systems

The procurement of our new generation upgraded handheld devices was finalised and distributed to all of our traffic officers before the start of the Festive Season to support the technological advances made to the enFORCE application, and all other functionality including communication to support the operational changes and mandates due to COVID-19.

Two components within the Chief Directorate namely Quality Management Evaluation and Road Safety Management were introduced to the use of technology by providing our officials with new tablets which had specific applications developed to capture their activities and assessments done at the various identified Traffic Law Enforcement and Road Safety Management interventions.

Ministerial Festive Season Interventions

I played a major role in promoting our communication and awareness campaign in support of the Festive Season operational plan by actively participating at various Traffic law Enforcement activities throughout the province to spread the road safety message and promote COVID-19 compliance within the public transport industry via engagements with drivers and commuters.

Festive Season Comparative Traffic Volume Trends

As mentioned during the launch of the Festive Season Safety Plan in December, we expected a huge influx of vehicular traffic from other parts of the country.

In total, 1 916 788 vehicles entered the province between 1 December 2020 to  11 January 2021. 2 077 987 vehicles were recorded during the same period in 2019. Please see comparison below.

1 December 2018 till 11 January 2019 2 197 032
1 December 2019 till 11 January 2020 2 077 987
1 December 2020 till 11 January 2021 1 916 788


Comparative Fatalities and Crashes Statistics Analysis

The Western Cape recorded a 15 percent decline in road fatalities during the festive season. The verified statistics from 1 December 2020 till 11 January 2021 are 132 fatalities compared to 157 fatalities in the previous year.

A decrease of fatalities was recorded on overall provincial roads, with 51 fatalities in 2019/20 to 44 fatalities in 2020/21.

A notable decrease in fatalities recorded on municipal roads is commendable, with 88 fatalities recorded in 2020/21 compared to 106 fatalities in 2019/20.

A comparison of overall provincial statistics can be seen below:

Overall provincial fatalities 01 Dec 2019 - 11 Jan 2020

Road user Dec-19 Jan-20 Total
Cyclist 4 1 5
Driver 23 11 34
Fell off Vehicle 1 1 2
Motorcycle Pillion 1 0 1
Motorcyclist 5 1 6
Passenger 28 7 35
Pedestrian 59 15 74
Total fatalities 121 36 157
Crashes 109 32 141


Overall provincial fatalities 01 Dec 2020 - 11 Jan 2021

Road user Dec-20 Jan-21 Total
Cyclist 1 0 1
Driver 24 4 28
Fell off Vehicle 0 0 0
Motorcycle Pillion 0 0 0
Motorcyclist 5 1 6
Passenger 24 14 38
Pedestrian 51 8 59
Total fatalities 105 27 132
Crashes 91 18 109


Traffic Law Operations and arrests

Traffic Law Enforcement Operations/Roadblocks conducted increased from 1116 in 2019/20 to 1899 in 2020/21. The number of discontinued vehicles is 565 and the number of impounded vehicles is 74.

The number of people arrested for drunken driving decreased to 89 in 2020/21 from 476 in 2019/20.

Overall, the total number of arrests decreased to 223 in 2020/21 from 808 in 2019/20.

The monetary value of all charges, suspensions and arrests is R29 559 758.00


The collaborative and pro-active approach by the Chief Directorate: Traffic Management has ensured effective planning, co-ordination and flexibility to deal with the operational challenges that were faced due to the pandemic as well as the execution of focus driven integrated operations  linked to our operational mandates during a critical festive season period which led to a significant reduction of fatalities in the Western Cape.  

The professional conduct, dedication, sacrifice and cohesion of the active operational role-players during the festive season is acknowledged and commended.

There is still a need to ensure active and consistent participation with the Local Authority Traffic Services over critical periods in the year to align to the Western Cape’s Integrated Operational Plans.

Media Enquiries: 

Ntomboxolo Makoba-Somdaka
Spokesperson for Minister Bonginkosi Madikizela
Tel: 021 483 8067
Cell: 082 953 0026
Email: Ntomboxolo.Makoba-Somdaka@westerncape.gov.za