‘Decline’ in road deaths ‘a victory’

Henry

Although there was a slight decrease in the number of road deaths over the festive period, this is scant consolation for the next of kin of the 1,427 people who still died on the country’s roads.

The Automobile Association (AA) said in response to the latest statistics on Tuesday that although it welcomes the decrease of 25 road deaths compared to the 2022-23 period, much more needs to be done to promote road safety in South Africa.

“We recognize the efforts of law enforcement to improve road safety, but this figure (1,427) is still too high. We must guard against viewing the decline as a victory,” the AA said.

“We reiterate our view that increased law enforcement over a four-week period will not lead to improved road safety when law enforcement is weak over the other 48 weeks of the year.”

Commenting on Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga’s comments that human factors – i.e. driver behavior – were responsible for 80% of road deaths over the festive period, the AA said it must be taken into account that driver behavior will only change over time . And for this to happen, more and better policing on roads is needed.

In addition, more awareness campaigns should be done throughout the year.

“Urgent intervention is needed to promote road safety more effectively. Without such intervention, the appalling road death tolls reported annually by the Department of Transportation simply will not decrease meaningfully.

“The dire road safety situation in South Africa is a national crisis and costs the economy about R200 billion annually, according to the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC). Improving road safety will benefit all South Africans and is the authorities’ duty.”