Traffic-related deaths in KwaZulu-Natal fell slightly during the festive season but traffic authorities on Tuesday expressed concern at the increase in the number of people arrested for drunken driving.
KwaZulu-Natal's Transport MEC Bheki Cele said at a media briefing in Durban that from December 1, 2006, to January 7, 2007, the number of deaths fell to 293 from the 312 deaths recorded during the same period in the previous year.
While the number of motorists and passengers killed on the province's road dropped, the 157 pedestrians killed accounted for 54 percent of the festive season deaths - 10 more than in the previous year.
Cele said there would be an increased drive to educate pedestrians, especially those people out of rural areas.
"Education is essential and it needs to be backed up by law enforcement and technology," he said.
Speaking at the same briefing, KwaZulu-Natal Road Traffic Inspectorate chief John Schnell said the 664 people arrested in KwaZulu-Natal for drunken driving during the festive season represented a 20 percent increase over the previous year.
"What is of considerable concern is the degree to which people are drunk," he said. Schnell said that numerous people had been arrested at road blocks in the province, particularly in Durban and Pietermaritzburg, who were "incoherently drunk and close to
He labelled Florida Road in Durban and Longmarket Street in Pietermaritzburg as the worst locations for drunk driving.
The KZN transport department head Dr Kwazi Mbanjwa said that 75 buses had been impounded during the festive season.
Traffic authorities began a major campaign to remove buses that were not roadworthy from the province's roads following an accident on December 24 when 12 people were killed when an SA Roadlink bus ploughed into a bridge on the N3 motorway in Pietermaritzburg.
SA Roadlink has claimed that a burst tire was the cause of the accident while the KZN Department of Transport blames the company, saying another 11 of the company's buses had been declared unroadworthy.
In total 1 219 vehicles were impounded for being unroadworthy while 186 pedestrians were arrested for walking on the province's freeways.
During the festive season motorists were charged for 35 000 offences. About 877 motorists were arrested.
The highest speed recorded was 225km/h on the N3 near Bergville. - Sapa