19 LIVES LOST: The Western Cape roads have claimed 19 lives during the festive long weekend. Image: Arrive Alive!
Cape Town - In the weeks before the 2016 festive season, the Western Cape department of Transport and Public works has embarked safety campaigns to raise drunk driving awareness.
There has even been more traffic and law enforcement officers deployed on the roads, but yet it seems to be to no avail.
Western Cape MEC Donald Grant says: "It was a dark long weekend on Western Cape roads as a preliminary report from Western Cape Provincial Traffic Services indicates that 19 road users lost their lives. Among these was a horrific crash near De Doorns which claimed the lives of 13 people who were apparently on their way to visit loved ones over Christmas.
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"Two child pedestrians, the first only one year old and other five, tragically lost their lives after being hit by motor vehicles on the West Coast."
Grant claims that provincial traffic officers arrested 16 motorists for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol on December 23 and 24. Seven were arrested in the Mossel Bay service area; three in George; two in Worcester; two in Brackenfell; one in Beaufort West; and one in Swellendam.
He also adds that breath testing was performed on 1 365 drivers at 20 alcohol blitz roadblocks across the province. The highest breath alcohol reading was recorded in the Mossel Bay service area. At 1.24mg of alcohol/ 1 000ml of breath, this is over five times over the legal limit of 0.24 mg/1 000ml.
On Tuesday (Dec. 27), five people died in a head-on collision when a taxi and Toyota Corolla crashed in Bethlehem in the Free State. Another five people were killed in the early hours of Tuesday morning when a vehicle collided with a bakkie on the N1 near Mookgophong, the Limpopo department of transport said.
Two people, including a seven-year-old child, died in a head-on collision on the R59 approximately 10km outside Parys in the Free State on Christmas morning.
Three other persons were arrested in the Western Cape: one for excessive speed in Laingsburg (175 km/h in a 120 km/h zone); one for excessive speed in Beaufort West (164 km/h in a 120 km/h zone); and one for false documentation in Brackenfell.
A total of 3 391 vehicles were screened for speeding and 356 speeding offences were recorded, says Grant. Fines in the amount of R340 750 were issued for a variety of reasons, ranging from driver offences to vehicle fitness violations.
The highest speeds recorded were 175km/h in a 120km/h zone in the Beaufort West service area; 131km/h in a 100km/h zone in the Vredendal service area; and 108km in an 80km/h zone in the Somerset West service area.
Grant says: "The Department of Transport and Public Works is doing everything in its power to create safer, booze-free roads during the festive season and beyond. We play our part by conducting ongoing road safety awareness and education initiatives, traffic law enforcement operations such as roadblocks with key road safety agencies and en route inspections, as well as road traffic engineering to ensure that signs are visible, camera equipment is functional, and roads are of a high quality.
"What is generally a time filled with happiness and celebration has now become a time of danger for road users. We urge drivers to be extra careful. All road users are responsible for road safety. Good driving and pedestrian habits are essential. We can help to prevent the unnecessary loss of lives on our roads if we all work together and show consideration and respect for our fellow road users.
"Our condolences go out to the families and loved ones of those who have lost their lives."