No more lip service!
In the wake of the increased road death toll over the 2016/17 festive season, the Automobile Association of South Africa (AA) says that the death toll will continue to rise in the absence of proper, actionable strategies.
“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,” the Association notes, commenting on the road fatality statistics release this week by Transport Minister Dipuo Peters.
According to the Peters, 1 714 people died on South African roads between December 1, 2016, and January 9 – a four percent increase over the same period last year.
“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 AA says.
The also AA expressed concern that these preliminary figures may still increase. Furthermore, there was a steep increase in the number of passengers who died. Passengers accounted for 40 percent of deaths, along with pedestrians at 34 percent, and drivers at 24 percent.
The Association also notes that the various indabas and forums held throughout the year, significantly the Traffic Officers Indaba in Durban from December 5 to 9, 2016, appear to have had no noticeable impact on the fatality statistics.
“Hosting a road safety indaba so late in the year has proved 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 her 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 AA notes.
“Another concern is that the number of cars stopped, and fines issued, during this period are as high as they are. This practice should be standard procedure and not limited to special times of the year. These cars could have been stopped and many removed from the roads months ago … 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 among 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,” the AA concludes.