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 Monday, 30 December, 2002, 12:42 GMT
South Africa's festive toll
Piet Retief crash in October
Bus crashes are common in South Africa

During the festive holiday season, the number of collisions between cars claims hundreds of lives annually on South Africa's roads - and in many cases the consumption of alcohol plays a major role.

Despite an extended advertising in newspapers, radio and television in the Department of Transport's Arrive Alive campaign, the death toll on South Africa's roads over this summer holiday period starting at the beginning of December is once again approaching the 1,000 mark.

If you drink, do not drive or walk anywhere

Transport Minister Dullah Omar
By the end of last week, nearly 850 people had lost their lives on the country's roads - that's the same number killed during the whole of December 2001.

The Arrive Alive campaign offices had recorded 650 fatal road accidents since 1 December. In the worst accident so far eight people were killed in a head on collision between two vehicles in Western Cape Province.

Alcohol

South Africa has one of the worst road safety records in the world, with accidents claiming around 10,000 lives a year.

But it is not only drinking and driving that is proving to be a lethal combination.

Many of the accidents involve drunken pedestrians who stray onto unlit roads near their informal settlements at night only to be knocked down by oncoming cars.

This has prompted the country's Transport Minister Dullah Omar to issue a statement warning both motorists and pedestrians: "If you drink, do not drive or walk anywhere."

But the minister may well have added the message do not drink and swim as well, for many drownings also occur on South Africa's beaches due to drunken people rushing into the water.

Although life guards are normally able to rescue many, dozens of lives are also lost at sea, especially on Christmas and New Year's Day when festivities are at their peak.

See also:

25 Dec 00 | Africa
31 Oct 02 | UK
28 Sep 99 | Africa
11 Feb 02 | Africa
31 Dec 01 | Africa
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