Western Cape Government interventions yield record low road deaths on Western Cape roads over the Festive Season

Donald Grant and Kenny Africa,

Minister of Transport and Public Works, and Western Cape Provincial Traffic Chief:

The December 2014/January 2015 festive season has been one of commendable hard work by our Province and Municipal Traffic Services, Safely Home, and all our road safety partners. It has also been characterised by more and more road users in this province heeding our calls to join us in making our roads safer, and adopting safe behavioural practices when embarking on their various journeys.

Minister Grant and Chief Africa at the Festive Season Press Conference (3)

As with all our joint road safety efforts, our interventions have continued to be guided by information-based strategy, that continues to yield positive results and save thousands of lives that would otherwise have been lost on our roads. Valuable lessons from festive seasons past continue to place us in good stead in our continued efforts at reducing the unacceptably high fatalities experienced on our roads daily. Our approach remains focussed, dedicated, and informed, while using all available information and emergent trends to guide the decisions we take. Together with the citizens of the Western Cape that continue to prioritise their safety on our roads as well as that of others, we have cut the provincial death rate by around 30% since the beginning of the Safely Home campaign in 2009.

We celebrate this achievement today, and reaffirm our commitment to making our roads safer for all who travel on them, particularly as we move towards periods of similarly high traffic volumes like Easter, and the wet and dangerous winter period.

The festive season is measured from 1 December 2014 to 31 January 2015.

Festive Seasons breakdown:

  • December 2010/January 2011:               263
  • December 2011/January 2012:               247
  • December 2012/January 2013:               230
  • December 2013/ January 2014:              221
  • December 2014/January 2015:               197

Road deaths 1

Road deaths 2

Worth noting also is the record low number of road deaths experienced in January 2015, with 76 lives lost over this month. While 76 lives are still far too many to have been lost on our roads, this number represents a 48% reduction since the beginning of the campaign in 2009.

Comparative January Road Deaths Statistics:

 

  • January 2009:            147
  • January 2010:            117
  • January 2011:            109
  • January 2012:            104
  • January 2013:            80
  • January 2014:            91
  • January 2015:            76

 

Road injuries and deaths in this province cost the Western Cape economy an estimated R21 billion – more than either the province’s health or education budgets. That excludes the human or emotional cost. Nationally, the situation is worse, with an estimated 17000 lives lost annually. The National Department of Transport estimates road trauma costs to the South African economy of R306 billion annually, which is money that should be directed to improving levels of service delivery. We will continue to take the urgent and necessary action, in partnership with all stakeholders and citizens, to curb the carnage on our roads.

 

Safely Home activities over the Festive Season

 

Safely Home launched a multimedia campaign focussed on the dangers associated with alcohol and road use, titled “Alcohol and the Road Don’t Mix”. The campaign went live on the Safely Home website, www.safelyhome.westerncape.gov.za, twitter: @WCGovSafelyHome hashtag #BoozeFreeRoads, and is supported by radio advertisements on various radio stations, as well as campaign posters at key locations, videos on Crash Witness, and VMS message board messages on busy highways. #BoozeFreeRoads was specifically targeted at both motorists and pedestrians, with drinking and driving as well as drinking and walking both proving to be a deadly combination on our roads.

 

Drinking and walking adversely affects poorer communities, and causes as many deaths as drinking and driving, but gets far less attention in comparison, particularly in the media. As a result, Safely Home’s pedestrian drinking advertising campaign (“Usele?”) had been rolled out in the poorer communities most affected, especially in the Metro South East.  The “Usele?” (“Have You Been Drinking”) drinking and walking advertisements were aired on Umhlobo Wenene and Radio Zibonele until the end of February, with drinking and driving advertisements airing concurrently on various English and Afrikaans stations.

 

The drinking and driving campaign was based on the fact that alcohol plays a causal role in a large proportion of fatal crashes. Before they even have their first drink, drivers make a decision that they are going to drink and drive. Thus when they kill someone, or go to jail, or end up dead themselves, it is not a co-incidence. The campaign thus carried the important message of “When you choose to drink and drive, it’s no accident”. The campaign has been crucial to the results that we have seen over the Festive Season, with more and more people responding positively to these messages, and changing their behaviour accordingly.

 

In January 2015, we were excited to extend the reach of the campaign to one of the more vulnerable road user groups, young people, through our new Safely Home Mxit application. The app is specifically targeted at young children, living in the Western Cape, offering an interactive platform for sharing, as well as R50 airtime prizes. Mxit was chosen because it gives Safely Home access to an audience who are usually harder to reach via traditional and social media, including Facebook and Twitter. Mxit also appeals to young people from poorer communities due to its low cost and easy accessibility from a wide range of mobile devices, including old feature phones. The app went live on 19th January 2015 in order to coincide with pupils returning to school. Since the app was launched, we have seen:

 

  • 46,201 subscribers as of 19 February 2015.
  • 3,151 form completions. This is giving us very rich data about perceptions of road safety among youth.
  • 13 direct messages sent: 267,547 deliveries, of which 152,400 messages were read. Average direct messages read per subscriber per month: 81
  • 448 images submitted.
  • 467 It has been inspiring to see that young people in the Western Cape are, in many ways, ahead of adults in their clear understanding of the dangers on our roads.

 

Provincial Traffic Enforcement efforts over the Festive Season

 

The Western Cape Government made every effort to ensure safe roads over the festive season. Our Provincial traffic officers remain the only traffic service to operate a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year traffic enforcement service. This was intensified over the festive season with more round-the-clock enforcement operations focussed on:

 

  1. Driving under the influence of alcohol
  2. Excessive speed
  3. Average Speed Over Distance (ASOD)
  4. Driver Fatigue management
  5. Driver/vehicle fitness
  6. Distracted driving
  7. Pedestrian safety
  8. Seatbelt compliance
  9. Inter provincial operations
  10. Licence plates
  11. Safe following distances
  12. Transportation of illegal substances/elicit cigarettes

 

In November 2014, we also extended our successful Average Speed Over Distance (ASOD) camera enforcement system to cover a larger part of the notorious stretch of the N1 from Laingsburg to Touwsrivier in the Western Cape. This is the fifth phase of this enforcement technology – now covering a total of 423.2 kms of road in the province. It has seen a substantial decrease in both road fatalities, as well as speed violations on the province’s most dangerous roads, the N1, the R61, and the R27. The system will be extended also to parts of the N2, including Sir Lowry’s Pass, and will go live there very soon.

 

Key partnerships with the SAPS, Municipal traffic authorities and the Metro Police, the Western Cape Government and the City of Cape Town, SARS, the NPA, SANRAL, the RTMC, Home Affairs, and our various media partners, have been essential to the success of our operations over the festive season.

 

Enforcement activities: 

  • Traffic officials were deployed from 12 Provincial Traffic Centres and 1 satellite centre in George, on a 24/7 Traffic students from the Gene Louw Traffic College were also deployed to most Provincial Traffic Centres.
  • The RTMC deployed 18 members from the National Traffic Police (NTP) to the southern Cape and Metro areas to assist with operational activities.
  • 22 900 vehicles were stopped as part of our alcohol blitzes, with 13 950 drivers screened for alcohol, resulting in 275 arrests being made. The highest alcohol reading was 1.88mg/1000ml which is 7 times over the legal limit of 0.24mg/1000ml.
  • 1502 manual speed offences were recorded, with 14 376 speed offences recorded by camera technology.
  • 7 386 vehicles were stopped as part of our Fatigue Management campaign, with 393 drivers being made to rest before continuing on with their journey.  Had these drivers not been stopped, the possibility is high that they would have continued on to cause a very serious crash along their way.
  • 105 603 vehicles were weighed as part of our overload control efforts. Of these vehicles, 1 988 drivers were prosecuted for overloading their vehicles.
  • There were a total of 2 560 public transport offences, with a total of 382

 

Apart from roadside activities, traffic officials also promoted visible traffic policing and operational readiness, including the further implementation of our successful “sticker project”, targeted specifically at public transport vehicles that embarked on long trips across the province, and beyond, transporting thousands of holiday-makers to their various destinations.

 

The lessons that we have learnt from this past festive season, and other busy periods that have passed, will undoubtedly place us in good stead as the notorious Easter season approaches. We will continue to make use of our limited resources strategically, to yield the most optimal results for the people of the Western Cape.

 

Conclusion

 

While the numbers are still high, particularly pedestrian deaths, the trend continues to move in a downward direction. Through our Safely Home campaign, we have continued to make a noticeable dent in the carnage on our roads, and thanks to the hard work and dedicated efforts of our traffic officers, our roads are made safer and safer for all the people of the province, and the hundreds of thousands that come to visit us during the festive season. Our statistics, and responses to our campaigns, continue to show a gradual change in behaviour and attitudes towards road safety amongst road users in the province; where lawlessness and a complete disregard for safety reigned supreme, we have seen it replaced by more and more orderly driver behaviour. Together, we are continuing to make our roads safer, and are seeing and increased number of citizens take responsibility for their lives, as well as the lives of others. Our collective commitment to road safety in the Western Cape is increasingly giving life to our motto of “Better Together”.

 

We offer our sincere thanks to all our men and women who spent the season on the roads saving lives. We also extend our deepest condolences to the families and friends of the 197 people that tragically lost their lives on our roads this festive season.