As expected, the number of fatalities on the roads this festive season has shown a dip despite greater traffic volumes.

As expected, the number of fatalities on the roads this festive season has shown a dip despite greater traffic volumes.

The transport department announced that road accident fatalities dropped by 2,26 per cent in December 2003 compared with the corresponding period in 2002. This was even though the recorded traffic volumes had increased by six per cent for the same period.

Speaking to Parliament's transport committees on its Arrive Alive campaign, the department said a total of 1 190 people died on the roads in December 2003. Of the total number of fatalities, 38 per cent were pedestrian deaths.

Speaking to CARtoday.com, Wendy Watson, general manager of the transport department's land transport regulation, said: "We've received tremendous support from the media, which has helped make motorists aware of the campaign, like the "lights on" initiative."

And while a large portion of Arrive Alive's budget was spent on advertising appealing to motorists' emotions, Watson was asked whether this campaign really helped with the reduction in deaths.

"Considering the increase in traffic volumes, every life saved is a bonus," she said. The advertising campaign and Operation Juggernaut would continue in efforts to further reduce the number of road deaths this year.

Last year Operation Juggernaut that saw over a million heavy vehicles being inspected. A substantial reduction in the number of unregistered vehicles, including buses and minibus taxis, was also noted.

Yet the high level of pedestrian deaths continued to pose a problem and Watson said this "will be looked into."

Pedestrian fatalities had "remained basically the same from last year and will be addressed when we start the planning for this year."

The figures showed that in January 2004 the number of fatal crashes decreased from 656 in 2003 to 643 this year, a reduction of 1,5 per cent.

Watson said that there was a need for co-operation among various government departments if the number of road deaths was to be reduced further.

She cautioned too that motorists and pedestrians should be committed to complying with the law.

The transport department is considering a feasibility study into forming a national highway patrol.

The department too has recognised that the fastest way to reduce carnage is through visible policing. With advertising and public relation campaigns it is hoping to highlight the results of bad driving.

In the longer term, implementation of the road safety strategy would continue, dealing with infrastructure and the basic causes of road trauma, such as vehicle and driver legitimacy, and the road environment, the department said.