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Thousands of South Africans will take to the country's roads over the festive season eager to make their way home to their families or set off on that well deserved break.
Unfortunately not all will reach their destinations safely.
The sad reality of the festive period in South Africa is that despite the best efforts of government, thousands of people are likely to lose their lives on our country's roads.
The 2017 Easter period saw a 51 percent increase in the number of road fatalities, rising from 156 in 2016 to 235 this year.
Furthermore, there were 1 714 deaths on South Africa's roads over the 2016/17 festive period, an increase of five percent from the previous period.
Various factors were behind these deaths including human error and vehicle failures as well as road and environmental conditions.
But at the end of the day, it is the responsibly of every driver to adhere to the speed limit, stop when tired, buckle up, keep off their mobile phone, slow down in poor driving conditions, ensure the vehicle is roadworthy and hand the keys over to someone else when they have had too much to drink.
At the end of the day, it is because of the actions of an individual that thousands of people don't make it to their destinations and what was supposed to be a time of celebration turns into one of mourning for many South African families.
Not only are road accidents claiming lives and robbing families of their loved ones and breadwinners, it is also affecting our economy.
A 2016 study conducted by the Road
Traffic Management Corporation and Council for Scientific and Industrial Research found that accidents are costing South Africa's economy R142.95 billion.
At the top of the lists of costs are human casualties at 69 percent, vehicle repairs at
14.9 percent and incidents and infrastructure at 15.8 percent.
The cost of road deaths to families and the country is just too high.
So traffic law enforcement officers will be out in full force over the festive season to ensure motorists comply with the rules of the road and as always, officers will adopt a zero tolerance approach to ensure safety.
Drivers and passengers need to also adopt the same approach.
Passengers, particularly those using public transport, have the right to point out to drivers that they are being reckless and negligent and report them to the authorities where the need arises.
Drivers, on the other hand, must place more value on their own lives and of those they are transporting and ensure that none of their actions endanger lives. And let's not forget that pedestrians also have a role in road safety and need to be attentive when crossing streets.
While we take off our public servant hats over this holiday period to spend time unwinding and bonding with family and friends, let's not forget to be responsible and safe.
Soon, it will be time to return to our work and ensure that South Africa continues to move forward in 2018.
Phumla Williams, GCIS Acting Director-General.