Lower road death figures dismissed as incorrect

2010-01-04 11:08

A DRIVING SKILLS company today disputed the department of

transport’s claim that road deaths in December 2009 had decreased, saying they

were in fact higher than in 2008.

Rob Handfield-Jones, the managing director of driving.co.za, said

the department’s claim was based on contradictory statistics.

“The department is currently claiming the death toll for December

2008 was 1?348 when it was actually 908. The death toll of 1?050 for December

2009 is thus not a reduction but an increase of almost 16%,” he said in a


He said December 2009 had claimed 142 more lives compared to the

same month in 2008 despite around 285?000 speeding tickets being issued.

“Speed control has once again been shown to be ineffective at

reducing road deaths,” he said.

Handfield-Jones called for the introduction of a new driving

licence system and a professional driving permit, which includes a driving

skills test, saying the current system was producing poor drivers.

“Across the world people only drive as badly as their governments

permit them to,” he said.

He called on the parliamentary portfolio committee on transport to

investigate how the department of transport had come to use contradictory data

in road safety comparisons and whether the statistics were fixed.

However, department spokesperson Logan Maistry still maintained

that there had been a decrease in the number of road fatalities in December


He said statistics released to the media were not final and that

Minister of Transport Sbu Ndebele would release final statistics later this


He said arguing about statistics was not the department’s main


“Road deaths are more than mere statistics, it’s people’s lives. We

have no reason to fiddle with figures. Our aim as government is to save lives.

For us one road death is one too many,” he said.

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