Next week the Department of Transport will host the official launch of the UN’s Decade of Action for Road Safety in the hopes of saving five million lives across the globe in the next 10 years.
As a signatory to the declaration, signed by Minister Ndebele in Russia in March last year, the South African government is mandated to implement road safety activities, particularly in the areas of road safety management, road infrastructure, vehicle safety and road user behaviour.
The Minister last year announced a national road traffic casualty reduction target to reduce road deaths in South Africa by 50% in line with the Decade of Action, but therein lies the question – where exactly is government in terms of taking action to do something about it?
While there has been an increase in enforcement as seen with numerous roadblocks operating over the festive season, we are yet to see any significant communications engaging the public on activities in place or on the horizon to make a real difference on our roads. The Automobile Association of South Africa urges the government to implement a more coordinated and aggressive approach to effectively shift motorists’ behaviour.
In 2011, at least 203 people were killed in road accidents over the Easter weekend with 860 deaths during December 2010. South African families continue to lose bread winners from road accidents, which as a result cause immeasurable human suffering placing tremendous economic pressure on the affected families.
“The lack of action over the December and Easter periods is a big concern to us. While the Decade itself is being launched in May 2011, the mandate has been effective since the signing of the resolution in March 2010. While Government has various road safety campaigns and strategies in place such as Arrive Alive, the Mpumalanga Traffic Department’s Sivutha umlilo campaign, road blocks and a presence in and around key freeways, yet we have not seen any effective initiatives or specific projects coming through from government to enforce road safety measures and instil a zero harm directive on our roads,” says the AASA.
While private companies and non-profit organizations play a vital role in raising awareness for the reduction of road fatalities, these efforts alone are inadequate to effect any decent behaviour change amongst South African road users. “A concerted effort is needed in order to enforce public behaviour change, and road safety activities need to be implemented swiftly.”
The AA recommends that the Department of Transport formulate a streamlined communication strategy with the public; road safety forums and road safety projects which are aligned to achieving 50% crash reduction over the next 10 years”, concludes the AASA. “These activities will go a far way in addressing the issue of road safety at all levels of the system and increase and sustain the action and efforts to reduce fatalities on the roads.”
The AA is committed to working with the South African government so that South Africa plays its part in this global effort.
Automobile Association of South Africa (AA)
011 799 1126