It's going to be a long and not so festive December if motorists don't start taking road safety seriously, with 15 deaths already reported on the first weekend of the month.
The Transport department has already launched its festive season road safety campaign and reiterated its warning that enforcement will be intensified as we head into the festive season and those who commit traffic offences will face the consequences of their actions.
If you're still considering drinking and driving, watch this video and see if it changes your mind: The montage features iconic scenes and images from commercials that have helped change they way we drive, all edited to the moving song Everybody Hurts by REM.
Driver and vehicle fitness
This year's festive season road safety campaign will focus on driver and vehicle fitness as well as moving violations, Transport Minister, Sibusiso Ndebele announced.
"Traffic enforcement will be visible, proactive and effective...absolutely no mercy will be shown to drunk motorists. At all times traffic personnel will act in a professional and ethical manner ensuring that motorists' support for road safety is secured."
Ndebele was speaking at Ikageng Stadium in Potchefstroom, where he announced road safety plans for the December 2010 and January 2011 period.
High volumes of traffic during this period will be monitored along key arterial routes - such as the N3 to Durban, the N1 to Limpopo, the N4 to Witbank and Mpumalanga, and will also include roads along various urban and rural locations.
Besides driver and vehicle fitness, including; tyres, brakes, lights and shock absorbers; the use of seatbelts will be rigorously enforced, Ndebele said.
Blood to be drawn to secure prosecutions
Traffic officers will also be on the lookout for drunk pedestrians, pedestrians on freeways and jay-walking.
"Since the 2010 Soccer World Cup, an average of 2,000 motorists were arrested monthly, nation-wide for driving under the influence," Ndebele said, adding that random operations would continue on various routes and at various times.
"We will also use the 'draw-blood' method to secure prosecutions."
Motorists who do not display registration plates, deliberately obscure plates or display fraudulent plates, will be treated as a suspect and dealt with accordingly.
Overloaded and unroadworthy public transport vehicles will be removed from the roads and drivers fined heavily. In addition, there will be zero tolerance for drivers who continue to travel at excessive speeds "with impunity".
He said leave days for uniformed officers had been curtailed and all senior officers had been instructed to be out on the roads during peak traffic flow periods to assist with monitoring and supervision.
"Wear your seatbelt; do not drink and drive; adhere to the prescribed speed limits, fatigue is a silent killer so for every stretch of 200km drive, pull aside and rest or stretch, avoid moving violations; and pedestrians and cyclists wear bright clothes at all times when using the roads," Ndebele said.
If you're still not convinced, check out these pictures from actual accidents in recent years during the festive season on our South African roads:
Pic 1: A man was killed in this accident which occurred under the William Nicol Drive bridge on the N1 highway in Johannesburg. ER24 paramedics claimed the exact cause of this accident is not known and the man was declared dead on the scene.
Pics 2 and 3: This car was involved in a collision on the N1 highway between Malibongwe and William Nicol Drives in Joburg. Netcare 911 paramedics believe the accident occurred when a Golf lost control and crossed over the middle island and collided with another car that was travelling in the opposite direction.
The driver of the Golf was in a critical condition and he sustained head, abdominal and pelvic injuries as well as serious burns to the right side of his body, as the car caught fire after impact. Three other people were seriously injured in the accident and taken to hospital.
Pic 4: Netcare 911 reported this accident in which a man died. "It appears that the car left the highway and collided with the wrong side of the barrier before rolling down an embankment and coming to a standstill in a storm-water drain. The driver was ejected with significant force and he was thrown over two fences - the rear electric fence was over two meteres high." The man was found in the garden area of a townhouse complex next to the N1 highway and was declared dead at the scene.
Pic 5: One man was killed and two passengers were seriously injured when the taxi they were travelling in crashed into a tree in the middle island of the road in Roosevelt Park, Joburg, last week. Netcare 911 paramedics claimed that when they arrived on the scene, the sliding door of the minibus was still wrapped around the tree trunk.
How not to be involved in an accident
Mark Stokoe, spokesman for Netcare 911 urged drivers to be extra vigilant over the festive season.
He also put out an urgent plea for drivers not to slow down at accident scenes to look at what's happening, as this leads to many secondary accidents and puts both drivers and rescue workers at risk.
ER24 issued a similar warning and offered the following tips on safe travel during the festive season:
Wear your seatbelt, and make sure everyone else in the car does.
Do not speed or overtake recklessly - it’s better to get there slowly than not at all.
Switch your headlights on during the day, as this will increase your visibility remarkably.
Sources: Netcare 911, ER24, Sapa
(Amy Froneman, Health24.com, updated December 2010)
Early start to road carnage
Put road safety first