The increase in road deaths over the 2016/17 festive period is cause for great concern and points to the lack of a proper road safety strategy to deal with the carnage. This is the view of the Automobile Association (AA) which was commenting on the road fatality statistics release by Transport Minister Dipuo Peters in Midrand today.
According to the Minister 1714 people died on South African roads between 1 December 2016 and 9 January 2017. Over the same period last year 1629 people died on the country’s roads, meaning this year’s figures show a four percent increase.
The AA extended its condolences to the families and friends of those who died during this period, and said it was now more imperative than ever to address the problem.
On the surface, this increase may appear to be nominal, but the reality is that the number is neither stabilising nor, more importantly, coming down. More concerning is that the Department of Transport, and the Minister, are saying the same things this year as they did last year, and the situation is not getting any better
The Association also pointed to the various indaba’s and forums held throughout the year, significantly the Traffic Officers Indaba in Durban from 5 to 9 December 2016, which appear to have had no noticeable impact on the fatality statistics.
Hosting a road safety indaba so late in the year has proven to be fruitless; the results speak for themselves. Despite the many apparent road safety education and awareness campaigns throughout the year, that the minister referenced in here speech as a success, there has been no impact on the death toll at all. It is time that more drastic action is taken to address this situation.
The also AA expressed concern that the preliminary figures announced today may increase, as they did last year, further adding to the number of deaths. What is particularly dismaying about the 2017 numbers is the steep increase in the number of passengers who died. Passengers accounted for 40% of deaths this year, along with 34% pedestrians, and 24% drivers.
Another concern is that the number of cars stopped, and fines issued, during this period are as high as they are. According to the AA this should be standard procedure and not limited to special times of the year, such as festive holiday seasons. The Association noted that these cars could have been stopped and many removed from the roads months ago, and that a more impressive figure would have been if drivers had been stopped for moving violations such as reckless and negligent driving.
The numbers are horrific. As we noted in December they are indicative of a lack of mutual respect amongst motorists for their own, and other drivers’ lives. While this situation needs to change, and change quickly, it is also incumbent upon the authorities to not only talk about saving lives, but put in place proper, implementable strategies to deal with this.