The lack of serious attention to road safety by motorists and other key stakeholders, especially during the holiday season, poses a serious threat to the South African economy, rendering efforts to battle increasing deaths on our roads futile.
This is according to the Automobile Association of South Africa. The AASA estimates the cost of road deaths to the economy to be in the region of R52 billion per annum.
“This represents almost 3.6 percent of GDP. An acceptable cost in the developing world is closer to 1 percent of GDP. The government together with commerce needs to invest at least R4 to R5 billion every year on road safety in order to reduce the carnage.
“Without doubt a serious road culture change has to be effected. Private sector involvement must be secured where savings to the bottom line can be shown by the judicious implementation of simple safety regimes. Civic society needs to adopt safety as its main focus in order to protect the very people who subscribe to it. And of course, government must be held accountable for every life lost, disabled and injured on our road network,” says the AASA.
The AASA says pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists remain the most vulnerable of the road users on South African roads. “Studies have shown that 40 percent of pedestrians are killed on South African roads, about 70 percent of whom tested positive for alcohol or drug abuse. Had these people been driving, more than half would have exceeded the required limit. A pedestrian who is over the legal alcohol limit is just as vulnerable on the road as the motorist.”
“More and more injuries and deaths are being reported on a daily basis involving cyclists and motorcyclists. Very little is being done to educate road users of the risk these two road users face on our roads. Motorcycle driver training is almost non-existent.
“This also applies to commuters who use our public transport system. Almost all commuters face daily tribulations and risk using the various modes of transportation to get to work. Personal safety while walking in the dark to stations, bus or taxi ranks and then the accelerated risk while on our roads makes them especially vulnerable to injury or death,” says the AASA.
Safety on our roads, says the AASA, can only be achieved by a change in individual behaviour, driver training and adherence to the law.
“What is needed is a comprehensive implementation of the National Department of Transport Road Safety Strategy together with motorists changing their behaviour.
“The AA through its public affairs division actively pursues the promotion of road safety initiatives. We have a strong advocacy role on behalf of the motorist in particular, but serve all road users too. We trust that with the approaching holiday season, road users will adopt a more responsible behaviour, thus saving our country from economic catastrophy,” says the AASA.