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WCape seeking to limit festive season road fatalities

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Aiming to curb the high number of road fatalities seen in the Western Cape annually over the festive season, the Provincial Department of Transport and Public Works has launched an Integrated Provincial Traffic Operational plan. This will see the department collaborate with policing and traffic entities, to ensure motorists are observing the rules of the road when travelling during the busy end of year period.

Although the operational plan was launched on Thursday, it has been in effect since the start of December. It entails aspects such as drunken driving and average speed enforcement. There will also be a heavy focus in vehicle and driver fitness, as well as ensuring motorists are not transporting any illegal substances on the country’s roads. Transport authorities have indicated the initiative will feature visible, round-the-clock policing.

“It is quite a comprehensive plan, and we are the only province in the country that operates a 24-hour service, which will be continued and intensified. None of our officials have any leave over this period, just to ensure that the roads are safe,” explained department spokesperson, Siphesihle Dube.

During the festive season last year the Western Cape alone recorded over 1216 road fatalities; a sizable portion of the estimated annual road death tally of 17 000. However, Dube said the Western Cape was in a far better position than most, having been the only province to bring the number down. Since the current administration came into power in 2009, he noted a 30% drop in road fatalities during the holiday period.

“We are working very hard to ensure that it goes down,” he stated.

Of the estimated annual tally of 17 000, the national department has suggested the incidents have cost the country a whopping R360 billion. These are attributed to emergency services having to attend to the scenes of these accidents, vehicle damage, as well as pay-out for injuries, amongst others.

Dube said the recommendation for those travelling long distances would be to make a stop at least every 2 hours. This was in order to avoid driver fatigue. He noted traffic officials would be conducting tests to determine whether those long distance travelers were road fit.

“If they deem a driver to be fatigued, the driver is ordered to pull to the side. Usually their keys are taken away for a rest period determined by the officers,” he said.

He also appealed for motorists to be extra mindful of pedestrians. In the case of the pedestrians themselves, it was advisable to wear light colored clothing to make visibility easier for motorists.

For more information on road safety during the festive season period, visit the department’s website at VOC (Mubeen Banderker)

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