Stats don’t lie: more road carnage to come

2013-01-06 10:00

The death toll stands at over 1?300 but could reach up to 1?600

If you’re 25 and travelling on the N3 in KwaZulu-Natal between Mooi River and Durban during the months of July, August or December, your risk of being involved in a fatal crash spikes.

That’s according to statistics collated by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), which says it expects car crashes to continue being the second-leading cause of unnatural death in South Africa as 2013 unfolds.

It has also estimated that the festive season death toll on the country’s roads could be as high as 1?600 when the season officially ends on Thursday.

The latest death toll stood at over 1?300 yesterday, after the grim annual count began on December 1 2012.

The corporation’s acting chief executive, Collins Letsoalo, said: “Road crashes are the second-leading cause of unnatural deaths in this country.

“In some provinces, like Mpumalanga, road crashes are the leading cause of death. 40% of all deaths are pedestrians. If we are to decrease the death toll, we need to change the behaviour of drivers in South Africa. But behaviour is exhibited. You can’t force people to behave on the roads.

“It starts with simple things like buckling your seat belt, stopping at stop signs and observing the speed limit,” said Letsoalo.

“We need to get rid of rogue drivers and that’s the way South Africa should be going. People should know there will be consequences because 30 years ago Australia was in the same predicament as South Africa, but today they have the lowest fatalities – because they got rid of bad drivers.”

He said more than 12?000 people had been injured in crashes in just the past five weeks.

“For every one fatality there are 10 injuries, whether minor or major.

“Many people are in hospital and injured. We usually wait 30 days to go back to see if any of those who got injured passed away within the 30-day period and then we count them as part of road fatalities.”

The corporation’s statistics show that 80% of people who die on South Africa’s roads are aged between 19 and 34. The average age for road fatalities is 25.

“The drivers who lose their lives are usually around the age of 25 and they just got their drivers’ licences and are inexperienced.”

The RTMC keeps detailed statistics about road crashes, and Letsoalo revealed grim details about the country’s most dangerous roads and months.

There are four particularly deadly roads in terms of fatalities:

»?The R61, which leads onto the N2 in the Eastern Cape;

»?The R573 Moloto Road between Pretoria and KwaMhlanga in Mpumalanga;

»?The N1 northbound and southbound in Limpopo to and from Musina; and

»?The N3 in KwaZulu-Natal between Mooi River and Durban.

January and February experienced the lowest road death tolls – 2011 figures were 871 and 982, respectively. By July, the toll had climbed to 1?322, second only to December’s figures.

Letsoalo said statistics also showed 90% of all road crashes in South Africa were a result of one traffic violation or another – and head-on collisions are the leading type of crash.

“Only 10% of road crashes are actual, unavoidable accidents,” he said. “Speeding and driving under the influence of alcohol are major contributors to road crashes.”

The RTMC is now taking part in the International Road Assessment Programme to evaluate how safe our road designs are.

“In some cases our road engineering doesn’t assist in controlling driver behaviour because of bad signage on the road,” said Letsoalo.

“We will look at road-user behaviour and driver behaviour but also look at the infrastructure and how it contributes to road crashes.”

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