Increased road deaths need to be addressed

2017-01-18 06:02

LOCAL organisation, South Africans Against Drunk Driving (Sadd), has expressed grave concern about the increased road fatality rate over the festive season.

“The five percent increase in the death rate on top of the 15% increase last year means we have had a 20% increase in two years,” said Caro Smit, director of Sadd.

According to the statistics released by the Department of Transport, South Africa recorded 1 714 road fatalities during the 2016 festive season with KwaZulu-Natal recorded the second highest increase of road fatalities, behind Limpopo.

While the KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, Mxolisi Kaunda, said that he was concerned by the high number of deaths on provincial roads, he applauded the province for preventing other major crashes by ensuring high traffic police visibility on the roads.

“The 18% increase [in KwaZulu-Natal] from last year in road fatalities in the province calls for bold and immediate action by all stakeholders. Of major concern is that the people who are dying on our roads are those who are economically active between the ages of 25 to 44.

“What is also worrying is that 90% of these crashes are attributed to human factors such as alcohol and reckless driving. We have also noted that passengers constitute a substantial number of road crash victims. This calls upon us to intensify our road safety awareness campaigns in communities,” Kaunda said in a press statement.

Smit said that road deaths and injuries are under-reported in South Africa.

“Deaths can only be confirmed 30 days after the crashed happen. Statistics are not so accurate in SA as the crash may have occurred and captured in a rural area, and the patient taken to an urban hospital, where they then die. SAPS from rural areas are unlikely to follow up and record that death,” she said.

She added that alcohol abuse is behind at least 65% of the incidents. “This is just totally unacceptable. The main reason it is unacceptable is that many of these deaths, and the injuries which they have not reported, are preventable if the department followed the best practice measures that are adopted by countries that have dramatically reduced their crashes like UK, Australia or Sweden.

“Sadd asks everyone to get involved to demand safer roads, and fight with us to demand the government takes urgent and appropriate action now. #RoadCarnageMustFall,” said Smit.

The department have committed to intensifying mobilisation of all sectors of society by creating consciousness of road and community safety this includes reviewing the performance of municipal road traffic authorities, adapting the National Road Safety Strategy at the provincial level and running ongoing road safety campaigns.

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