Drunk driving fatalities leave empty seats at Christmas tables, says NGO

Durban—Today (Friday), Minister of Transport Sindisiwe Chikunga and the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) are set to release provisional festive season road statistics and provide a mid-term update on the country’s road safety awareness campaign.

The Department of Transport’s campaign was launched in the last week of November.

Western Cape traffic officials have reported an increase in drunk drivers and road accidents, with 55 people killed in 45 crashes in the province since December 1.

On Thursday, as part of the festive season road safety campaign in Mpumalanga, MEC for Community Safety, Security and Liaison Vusi Shongwe led law enforcement officers in operations through which more than 83 000 vehicles were stopped and searched and 27 suspects arrested for drinking and driving.

In January this year, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula announced that from December 1, 2022, to January 11, 2023, 1 451 people had died on South African roads compared with 1 685 fatalities in the previous year.

KwaZulu-Natal fatalities dropped from 275 to 240, resulting in a 12.7% reduction.

Mbalula said pedestrian fatalities remained a concern. They increased by 10% year on year, from 31% from the previous year to 41% this year.

On Thursday, road safety organisation South Africans Against Drunk Driving urged motorists to not drink and drive.

“Crashes caused by selfish drunk drivers end up putting yet another family through grief, leaving empty chairs at the Christmas table, or they leave yet another person disabled because they thought it was clever or okay to drink and drive,” said founder Caro Smit.

She said that she believed that the increase in drinkers was due to an aggressive marketing campaign by the alcohol industry, describing it as profits before people.

“More and more people are drinking. (After drinking) one double whiskey, one is at the legal limit which is 0.04 (alcohol-blood concentration) so if you have two, you are way over the legal limit for drinking and driving and you become a danger to yourself and other people on the road.”

Smit said drunk driving caused an incredible number of fatalities and severe injuries.

“Government needs to see this as a serious crime that is costing the economy a huge amount, let alone costing families in terms of finances and emotional harm.

We have 12 million drivers in South Africa and therefore we need to be doing 12 million alcohol tests and this is just not being done.

“We need more testing and very swift and hefty sentencing so people can experience the consequences of their actions.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *