Since the beginning of December, 767 people have died on the country’s roads. This is a 16% increase compared to the same period in 2017.

More than 300 roadblocks have been conducted so far, with traffic authorities issuing more than 300 000 fines for various traffic offences.

Transport Minister Blade Nzimande released the mid-festive season preliminary road safety report in Pretoria on Thursday.

Since the beginning of December, over 40 people on average have been killed a day on the roads and the authorities are concerned with the escalating death rate.

KwaZulu-Natal is leading with 162 fatalities followed by Gauteng with 125.

The lowest number of fatalities was recorded in the Northern Cape. A total of 34 minibus vehicles have been involved in fatal collisions since the beginning of the month, while 44 trucks were involved in deadly collisions.

Nzimande says he is extremely concerned that a high number of public and freight transport vehicles have been involved in fatal crashes.

“Our concern also arises out of the fact that you may have fewer road crashes, but if it involves these massive vehicles, the fatalities and injuries are much higher, which is your passenger vehicles; your minibuses; and buses, as well as trucks, because if a truck gets involved in a crash it normally affects a whole lot of other vehicles.”

Over a thousand motorists were arrested for drunk driving.

Reckless driving and speeding are the leading cause of death this festive season.

Nzimande says incidents related to texting and driving are on the rise.

“So far, reckless driving and speeding are the two leading causes of road crashes, but also the third one that is also threatening to even move to No.: 1 is what we call distracted driving, which in the main using a cellphone while texting, WhatsApp, on Facebook or Instagram whilst you’re driving at the same time.”

Despite the increasing road death toll, government is denying that awareness campaigns are failing to put the message across.

“The countries that are relatively doing better than us have the kind of legislation we do not have. Secondly, their vehicle population is not as high as we have,” says Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) Chairperson, Advocate Zola Majavu.

Law enforcement operations will be stepped up during the rest of the festive season. The department is also planning to meet with the NPA to ensure that cases involving transgressions are dealt with speedily.

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