The Free State Department of Police, Roads and Transport yesterday launched the annual Arrive Alive campaign aimed at reducing road accidents during the festive season.
The operation was launched at the Uniting Reformed Church in Intabazwe Township, Harrismith.
The event was also used to officially open the 4.6km stretch of road in the area’s Special Economic Zone (SEZ) by police, roads and transport MEC Sam Mashinini.
Harrismith is one of the Free State towns where there are huge traffic volumes heading to the beach in KwaZulu Natal during the holidays.
In announcing the launch, the department said road traffic fatalities are amongst the main causes of death in South Africa today, adding the social and economic costs of road accidents were huge and stalled the development of the country.
“As a consequence of these fatalities, many families lose their bread winners, leaving women and children behind who need to fend for themselves on top of the trauma they go through after losing their beloved family member,” said the department.
The Free State is prone to huge traffic volumes during the festive season due to its location at the centre of the country and a pass through to motorists enroute to various holiday destinations including Cape Town, Durban and East London.
Arrive Alive’s 2011-2020 campaign by government also targets to reduce fatalities by 50 percent this year.
Its main focus is to raise awareness about factors contributing to accidents on the roads, such as fatigue, driver fitness, drinking and driving, and not using seat belts.
The campaign is used each year during peak seasons such as Easter and the festive period to encourage road users to behave well and help reduce the number of road accidents.
The number of people that died on South African roads in 2019 went down by 10% when compared to the previous yesterday.
Fatal road accidents came down by 3% from 1 438 in 2018/19 to 1 390 in 2019/2020, according to government statistics.
A total of 111 people died on roads in the Free State in 2019, compared to 144 in Mpumalanga, and 136 in the Western Cape.
The Free State recorded the highest reduction in fatalities, a 35% decline compared to the previous year. Mpumalanga followed with 23% less deaths and the Western Cape with 19%.
Mashinini said the department used R16 134 738 to build the 4.6km road in Harrismith.
“It is an example of the department’s commitment to invest in infrastructure development in the previously disadvantaged areas and to decisively tackle unemployment, poverty and inequalities among our communities,” he noted.
Among dignitaries that graced the occasion were Thabo Mofutsanyane district executive mayor, Malefu Vilakazi, Maluti-a-Phofung executive mayor Masechaba Lakaje-Mosia, and heads of law enforcement agencies in the province.