Festive death toll rising

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By Neo Maditla

Cape Town - At least 15 people have died in car crashes in the Western Cape since the start of the summer holidays.

In the latest incident on Sunday, two people were killed when their car rolled on Lansdowne Road in Cape Town.

Metro EMS spokeswoman Angelique Jordaan said paramedics arrived on the scene shortly after 4am.

“When we arrived there was only one white car which had rolled off the road,” Jordaan said.

“There were two people in the car, a male and female occupant in their late 20s. They were both declared dead on the scene.”

She said paramedics had used the jaws of life to remove one of the bodies from the car.

Provincial traffic chief Kenny Africa said at least 15 fatalities had been reported, with four deaths occurring at the weekend.

Last year more than 1 556 people died on the country’s roads between December 1 and January 5, and 163 of those deaths were on Western Cape roads.

Africa said a driver and a passenger died on Saturday morning after their car crashed in Murraysburg.

On Saturday afternoon, one person died when a car and a truck were involved in a head-on crash on the N1 outside Three Sisters, Africa said.

On Friday morning, a driver died on the road between Laingsburg and Matjiesfontein after his vehicle veered off the road and crashed into a rest area on the side of the road, Africa said.

Later that day, one person died in a crash on the N1 when four students were driving from Cape Town to Joburg, he said. Three students were taken to Beaufort West Hospital. Three were from Wits University and the fourth was from the University of Johannesburg.

Africa said fatigue was the biggest cause of collisions during the festive season because people who did not plan their trips properly did not rest enough during the long drives.

“People want to drive late at night and in the early morning, but we always tell them to rest every two hours and get out of their cars and stretch their legs. But some people don’t do it,” he said. “Fatigue is a killer whether we like it or not.”

Africa said traffic police had arrested a driver for speeding in Aberdeen. “He was driving at 183km/h in a 120km zone.”

Africa said provincial traffic police had manned 24 roadblocks over the weekend when 3 539 cars were stopped, 1 114 people were tested for alcohol and 26 people were arrested for driving drunk.

“Overall R198 000 worth of fines were issued this weekend,” Africa said.

Meanwhile, Transport and Public Works MEC Robin Carlisle has passed the Western Cape Provincial Road Traffic Act.

Carlisle explained on Sunday that the law enabled him to carry out investigations at any drivers’ licence testing station without requiring permission from the national Transport Department.

“By January 2013 I will publish conditions for use of blue lights in the province, restricting such use to emergencies. I will also issue a regulation requiring all vehicles overtaking cyclists, to ensure that there is a safe distance of at least 1.5m between them before passing,” Carlisle said.

“This will be accompanied by law enforcement actions against cyclists who do not ride in single file, or who fail to stop at red robots or stop streets. Whilst we have reduced annual cyclist deaths in the province from 57 in 2008 to 35 in 2011 (reduction of 39 percent ), this figure is still too high.”

Carlisle said that this festive season motorcycle incidents were the only road deaths on the increase.

“Everything else has gone down except motorcycle incidents.”

Gary Ronald, spokesman for AA South Africa had the following tips for drivers:

* Preparation is key. Make sure you know the exact route you will be taking to get to your destination and that you understand the estimated length of the journey.

* Consider travel times. If you are planning a long journey, such as Johannesburg to Cape Town, you may be tempted to leave home before the sun is up.

* Split long distances. For long journeys it is recommended to stop halfway and stay over.

* Avoid quiet, long stretches. It is easy to get distracted on long roads that seem to go on forever.

* Regular stops are also essential for refuelling. Do not get caught out with an empty fuel tank on a quiet stretch of road.

neo.maditla@inl.co.za

Cape Argus

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