PARLIAMENT, April 17 – Human error remains the number one cause of road fatalities in South Africa, contributing 89.5 percent to crashes on the country’s roads over the Easter weekend, Transport Minister Blade Nzimande said on Tuesday.
Nzimande, during a media briefing in which he presented the preliminary report into Easter weekend deaths, which the department measured between March 29 and April 9 this year, revealed that 591 people died on the country’s roads over Easter – up 14 percent from the 449 road deaths over the same period in 2017.
The report, said the minister, also showed women were much better drivers than men.
“The preliminary report shows that the main contributory factors to road fatalities are related human behaviour, with male drivers accounting for 71.1% of fatalities and females for 24.1%,” he said
“In 2018, human factor contributed 89.5% to the crashes as compared to the 74.3% in 2017.”
Pedestrian fatalities increased from 33.8 percent to 37.3 percent while the number of drivers killed also climbed from 20.5 percent in 2017 to 25.6 percent in 2018.
“Passengers were the only user group that experienced a significant decline from 43 percent in 2017 to 35.5 percent this year.”
The number of children under four and those aged between 50 and 54 also recorded a “sharp increase”.
“Children between 0 and four years of age recorded an increase of 4.9% from 2.6% in 2017 to 7.5% in 2018. Middle aged individuals between the ages of 50 and 54 also recorded a sharp increase from 1.3% in 2017 to 8.4% in 2018.”
The biggest increases in road deaths came from the Northern Cape, North West and Limpopo, while Mpumalanga and the Free State saw less fatalities.
The number of deaths per province were:
— KwaZulu Natal with 111;
— Gauteng with 89;
— Limpopo with 80;
— Eastern Cape with 59;
— Mpumalanga with 49,
— Western Cape with 34;
–North West with 34;
— Free State with 27; and
— Northern Cape with 27.
Nzimande said he was disappointed that a target of reaching a 10 percent reduction in road fatalities was not met, adding: “we will not lose hope”.
Transport Minister Blade Nzimande on Tuesday conceded to MPs that safe rail transport for the working class was low on the list of priorities for the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa), but vowed this would change.
Briefing MPs on his department’s annual performance plan, Nzimande said he was trying to move with speed to appoint new “capable” boards to entities reporting to his department so critical work like ensuring safe travel for rail commuters, who often have to cram into carriages and hang outside trains to get to work, is addressed.
“I accept that we need to move with speed to appoint capable people who are going to focus on the task at hand,” he said.
“I want to to be honest. One thing that struck me at Prasa was that all was prioritised except the provision of safe rail transport for the working class.”
Nzimande last week announced the appointment of an interim board at Prasa to oversee executives in running operations at the embattled agency.
He said several other entities, including the Airports Company of South Africa, were operating with very few board members, meaning executives had very little oversight over their work and “instead entities have oversight over us”.
“If you have that, it poses a serious risk to governance because you can’t have board subcommittees as required by law.”