The Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, has encouraged all road users to behave responsibly on the road and be mindful of the rights of others as traffic volumes are expected to increase during the festive season.
According to research conducted by the South African Medical Research Council and the University of South Africa (UNISA), 27% of fatal road crashes in the country are attributable to driver alcohol intoxication and this costs the economy billions of Rands.
The research further shows that pedestrians are three times more likely to die in a road crash where a driver is intoxicated.
"It is only through responsible conduct that we can succeed is saving life and limb on South Africa's roads. Let us choose life, not death," the Minister said.
He made these remarks on Thursday in Polokwane at the launch of the 365 Road Safety programme.
"We would like to urge pedestrians to be visible whenever using the road. Last year, 35% of people who died on the road were pedestrians," Mbalula said.
He encouraged motorists to travel during the day, as statistical analysis shows that 50% of road deaths occur after dark.
"A high number of crashes happen between 7pm and 11pm. Therefore, this is the most dangerous time to drive during the festive season.
"All of us must make a commitment to use seatbelts consistently. We know that proper seatbelt use can dramatically reduce the risk of death and injury for drivers and passengers," the Minister said.
Research shows that the risk of death in a road crash is reduced by 45% and the risk of serious injury is reduced by 50% when occupants in a vehicle use their seatbelts.
Last year, 24% of people who died in road crashes were drivers and 36% were passengers.
"All vehicles on the road must be roadworthy... Tyre bursts, defective brakes and blinding lights [are some of] the causes of crashes. We will therefore deploy our mobile vehicle testing station this year to respond to this risk.
"Any vehicle found to be unroadworthy will be impounded and not allowed to proceed until all the defects have been fixed," the Minister said.