Road death figures mystery

2015-01-11 17:00

The department of transport doesn’t actually know how many people died in crashes on South Africa’s roads last year.

On Friday, Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters released the 2014 festive season road death toll, revealing that 1 368 people died between December 1 last year and January 5 this year.

But when City Press asked for a breakdown of death and crash tolls for the rest of 2014, the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) couldn’t supply these.

December is widely regarded as the deadliest month on South Africa’s roads, and City Press hoped that last year’s monthly figures could prove or disprove this.

But RTMC CEO Makhosini Msibi said that the figures for 2014 still needed to be audited.

There are no audited figures available for 2012 or 2013 either.

In fact, the last road death statistics that weren’t festive season-specific, were for the period November 2011 to March 2012.

In that five-month period, 5 514 people died in crashes.

Since then, the department of transport has only released road accident figures for the two major travelling holiday periods, March and December.

Johan Jonck, who launched the local Arrive Alive website, said only recording festive season data was not good enough.

He said most road safety campaigners were frustrated by the lack of records made available by the department and the RTMC.

“The minister of transport said last year that they were working on compiling a better database for reporting road accidents and this was supposed to be done in conjunction with the Road Accident Fund.

“But now there is nothing about that any more,” Jonck said.

“In road safety, I believe that we need the correct, verified and up-to-date data, if there are to be informed decisions.

“We have no excuse for not being able to collect this and make it available and RTMC is the only body that could make this possible,” he added.

On Friday, Peters told reporters, at a briefing on the December road death statistics, that 20 years into democracy, “road carnage is not one of the poignant social issues that we can rejoice about”.

“Road traffic injuries are a major global public challenge, requiring concerted efforts for effective and sustainable prevention,” she said.

City Press has repeatedly tried to get comment from Peters and her spokesperson, but they had not responded at the time of going to press.

Holiday season road deaths

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