WITH the festive season now in full swing, Limpopo MEC for Transport Makoma Makhurupetje has warned both motorists and pedestrians to be cautious on the roads to avoid unnecessary fatalities on the roads.
The high number of road deaths and injuries during the festive season and all-year round, remain a major concern for government.
Young people between the ages of 20 and 34 constitute the most people who die on South African roads.
There will be special focus on obeying all the rules of the road and alcohol abuse and drunken driving in particular.
Mobile testing stations are already placed at strategic points to test the roadworthiness of vehicles, be they short or long distance. Drivers will also be tested for alcohol levels at all road safety law enforcement activations.
Statistics from the Medical Research Council and South African Police Service reveal a worrying picture with 58% of road deaths being alcohol related and 75 034 (208 per day) drivers were found to be driving under the influence of alcohol in the 2016/17 financial year, which is a significant increase when compared to 48 338 in 2006/7.
Makhurupetje said: “We call on our motorists to make a plan to get home safe if they know that they have consumed alcoholic beverages, but at the same time appeal to our passengers to say no to be driven by a drunk driver.”
Makhurupetje has announced that there will be shift patrol units, and five traffic control centres will be operational 24/7 on the N1 highway during the festive season.
Since November 1, every Friday to Sunday the province has been implementing “Operation Ndadzi”, which is operated 24/7.
She said: “Since December 1, law enforcement has been implemented 24/7, prioritising drunken driving, drunk pedestrians, speeding, road worthiness of vehicles and visible patrol during the night as part of this campaign.
“The success of Operation Ndadzi will depend on at least three main pillars and that is visibility and law enforcement by our traffic officers as well as behavioural change on the part of ourselves and road users.
“Whilst we can count a number of successes as a result of our vigorous implementation of Operation Ndadzi (Operation Thunder), we still believe that a lot more still needs to be done to reduce fatalities especially by the users of the road themselves.
“The Operation is yielding some results which give us hope that we can turn around the situation.
“As part of Operation Ndadzi, we have already stopped and checked over 50 000 vehicles throughout the province.
“We have also tested more than 5000 drivers for alcohol.”
Her message to the people of the province is to stay within the speed limit at all times, reminding motorists that speed kills.
“Only overtake when it is absolutely safe to do so. Do not drink and walk on the road. A briber and a bribe are all killers. Maintain at least a two-second following distance – this distance should be increased at night, in foggy or rainy conditions and when the road is wet. Expect others to not be as obedient to the law as yourself.
“Avoid distractions on the road such as texting, conversations on cellular phones.
“Have a good rest before you embark on your journey.
“Take safety breaks every two hours or 200km.
“Rest, have an energy drink and continue once well rested. Do not overload.
“Always wear your seat belt and see that everyone in the car is wearing theirs.”