NATIONAL NEWS - Drunk driving accounted for 27.1% of fatal crashes in South Africa and is estimated to cost the economy R18.2-billion each year, new research revealed.
The research was done by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) in collaboration with the South African Medical Research Council and Unisa.
This as the government is pushing for a 0% alcohol level for motorists with the introduction of the Road Traffic Amendment Bill.
The research found that alcohol-attributed crashes accounted for the smallest proportion of cases at 5.5% while speeding stood at 52%, followed by other driver risks at 42%.
It also found that pedestrians were three times more likely to die in a crash where the driver was intoxicated.
RTMC spokesperson Simon Zwane said drunk driving operations had to be prioritised during the night, weekends and throughout the year as evidence showed that 55% of fatal crashes occurred at night.
“About three out of five happen over the weekends and 70% happen during non-vacation periods,” said Zwane.
He recently called on law enforcement authorities to step up their drunk driving operations every night and make it difficult for drunk drivers to use public roads.
This comes as Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula during an alert level 2 transport directions media briefing, spoke of a bill that introduced a 0% alcohol level for all motorists.
“The Road Traffic Amendment Bill was introduced earlier in June this year in parliament and introduces 0% alcohol level for all motorists,” said Mbalula.
He said section 65 of the principal act had been amended as follows: “No person shall be on a public road and drive a vehicle; occupy the driver’s seat of a motor vehicle as the engine runs, while there is any concentration of alcohol in any specimen of blood taken from any part of a person’s body.”
The amendment follows the recent death of three Tshwane metro police officers were killed in a head-on collision with a suspected drunk driver at the weekend.
“We need to strengthen the law and ensure that innocent lives are saved,” said Mbalula.
Mbalula recently shared sentiments with Tshwane metro police chief Lieutenant-General Johanna Nkomo that “since the announcing of Level 2, alcohol has been an issue for the government”.
A tearful and emotional memorial service was held for the three officers on Tuesday.
They were Ndimafhi Edward Phaduline, Khathutshelo Mukwevho and Silas Marisane Phala who served in Region 3.
Selalapoo Mashilo, cousin of Constable Phala said the family was in deep mourning.
“It is said that you died at 2am under Covid-19 curfew conditions when various people were not supposed to be on the road,” said Mashilo.