Transport Department seeks to address “individual behaviour” towards reducing road fatalities.

Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele announced the annual festive season road death toll in Pretoria this morning, saying a total of 1 582 people were killed on the country’s roads between 1 December 2009 and 11 January 2010. This compared to the 1 655 road deaths recorded during the previous festive season.

“If we leave things as they are, we will soon face an epidemic,” Ndebele warned, despite a slight decrease in road fatalities over the last couple of years.

KwaZulu Natal recorded the highest number of road fatalities with 298, while the Northern Cape was the lowest with 66. In Jacaranda Land 237 people were killed on Gauteng’s roads, 201 in Limpopo, 159 in Mpumalanga and 123 in the North West.

“We will only reduce the carnage on our roads if traffic offences become totally unacceptable,” Ndebele said, charging that motorists ‘simply ignore paying traffic fines and do not even bother to go to court’.

The Minister says he is confident that the implementation of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) will change this situation.

“It will relieve the burden from the court system and allow the courts to focus on more urgent matters…AARTO is about changing the behaviour of South African drivers,” the Minister said.

AARTO’s objective is to penalise drivers guilty of traffic offences through demerit points that could lead to the suspension and cancellation of drivers’ licenses.

The system is set to be implemented nationally from 1 April 2010.

Meanwhile the Minister has called on the public to participate in the Road Safety Summit that will be held next month.

“Together, we must all do much more to reduce the economic and emotional devastation caused by road crashes and road deaths. The millions of people who use our roads everyday deserve safer roads,” Ndebele said.