Road Accident Fund On the Road Stakeholder Engagement Session
Speech by Donald Grant, Minister of Transport and Public Works
- Programme Director, RAF Chief Marketing Officer Phumelela Dhlomo.
- Councilors Patrick Mngxunyeni and Xolani Sotashe from the City of Cape Town.
- Road Accident Fund Chief Operating Officer, Ms Lindelwa Jabavu, and officials of the Road Accident Fund.
- Ms Refiloe Mokoena and other members of the Road Accident Fund Board.
- Pastor Rich Mbuli.
- Professor Marianne Van der Schuren from the University of Cape Town’s Centre for Transport Studies and friend to the Safely Home campaign.
- Dr Anwar Kharwa, CEO of the Khayelitsha District Hospital.
- Major General Brand, Cluster Commander of the Khayelitsha SAPS, and other SAPS officials here today.
- Mr Joseph Williams from Disabled People South Africa.
- Mr Miselo from CODETA.
- Ms Siwe Coka from the South African Institute of Commuter Safety.
- Ladies and Gentlemen.
Good morning, Goeie more, Molweni.
Let me begin by acknowledging the tragic events of earlier this week, September 15, when a petrol bomb attack on an Intercape bus near Strand claimed the lives of two people, while injuring 34: A reminder of our shared duty to continue to create and maintain a safe environment on which commuters may travel daily.
We continue to condemn such acts of violence which undermine the provision of reliable public transport and threaten the safety of commuters. Let me also take this opportunity to extend my sincere gratitude for being afforded the opportunity to be here and to address you all today, and to all the speakers before me for their constructive contributions and their messages of support.
The world is currently facing a growing pandemic of road traffic deaths and injuries, and South Africa is no exception. The onus is on all of us to do whatever we can to address this pandemic head-on.
Road injury is now amongst the leading causes of death globally, with 1.3 million people killed in 2012 alone; a chilling statistic. South Africa ranks third in the world in road deaths with 34 deaths per 100 000 of the population. The Medical Research Council’s last Injury Mortality Survey in 2012 put road deaths in South Africa at close to 18 000 annually. The disastrous effects that road trauma has on the South African economy is yet another major challenge, with the National Department of Transport estimating the cost of road deaths to South Africa at R306 billion, 8% of our GDP, with more set to be lost if this scourge is allowed to continue unabated.
These are not just statistics, but rather an urgent call to action for all South Africans. There are very few things in this country more urgent than curbing road deaths, which continue to affect us all in some way or another. Road deaths are not only senseless and unnecessary, but are largely preventable through the adoption of the necessary life-saving interventions and practices, and by changing behaviours and attitudes towards road safety.
Ladies and gentlemen
Let me assure you that here in the Western Cape, through our Safely Home initiative and all of our road safety partners, we are very serious about saving lives on our roads by using our information-driven approach to road safety, and the innovative technology available to us.
We have adopted various initiatives to curb the scourge of fatalities on our roads, which have yielded an unprecedented 30% reduction in road deaths since 2009.
The Western Cape Government, in collaboration with the City of Cape Town and metropolitan authorities, has rolled out a year-round road safety awareness programme through the Safely Home communication calendar. This campaign blends an evidence-driven approach, spatial data, tactical media engagements, innovation and technology to maximise the impact of scarce resources in a sustainable manner.
Safely Home uses geo-spatial fatalities data to identify the communities and localities most in need of intervention, then targets them with messages which focus on the core of the problem.
In this month of September, for example, we have launched the innovative “It Takes a Second to Save a Life” direct marketing campaign to encourage seatbelt usage amongst all vehicle occupants. The campaign has always used messages based on sound internationally-tested methods to discourage unsafe road use practices, making use of various forms of media from radio and print, to online, particularly Twitter.
Radio advertisements titled “I killed my best friend” are currently on the air sending a strong message to vehicle occupants to always BUCKLE UP!
“Very seldom do we unbuckle a dead person from a car.”
These powerful words were spoken recently by Gary Watts, coroner of the American county of Richland in South Carolina. He speaks from personal experience, which most of us can relate to.
Seatbelts are not accessories; they save lives and reduce the risk of injury. Drivers and passengers should always wear seatbelts, even on the shortest journey. Regulations to the National Road Traffic Act provide that children up to the age of three must be in appropriate child restraints when travelling in private vehicles, even on the shortest journey.
Thousands of people who die in road traffic crashes each year might still be alive if they had been wearing their seatbelts. Before a vehicle starts moving, drivers and passengers must make sure everyone is wearing a seat belt, and that young children are kept safe in an appropriate child restraints. This prevents needless injuries and deaths. It is a positive action that all of us can all take to keep ourselves and loved ones safe on the roads. It only takes a second to buckle up and save a life.
Research shows that seatbelts are 99% effective in preventing occupants from being ejected from the vehicle in the event of a crash. They also reduce the risk of death in a crash by nearly 45%.
Vehicle occupant deaths constitute one of the leading classes of fatalities in the City of Cape Town, and account for nearly half of the road deaths in the Western Cape.
A study conducted by the University of Stellenbosch Emergency Medicine Unit in 2013 revealed that in Cape Town alone:
- Only 25% of the city’s motorists wore seatbelts.
- Only 8,3% of rear passengers use seatbelts.
- Most severe injuries were sustained by vehicle occupants who were not wearing seatbelts at the time of a collision.
These figures only highlight the need for campaigns targeted at seat belt compliance, and the lives that can be saved by this one simple act.
We continue to appeal to all road users, particularly parents of young children, to always buckle up, and to ensure that their little ones are also appropriately restrained when in a motor vehicle.
Ladies and gentlemen
Other campaigns have included the successful MASIQAPHELE ABANTWANA BETHU – LET US PROTECT OUR CHILDREN campaign run during October last year. This campaign consisted of a series of Child Pedestrian Safety posters aimed at shining a light on the threats to safety posed on child pedestrians, particularly in areas surrounding the Metro, like Khayelitsha. Campaign posters were erected in the:
- Fukutha St area, Makhaza, Khayelitsha (around Nkazimlo Primary where a little boy was run over at pedestrian crossing outside school in August last year).
- Sandelhout and Orange circle area, as well as the Sheffield, Jan Dissels, and Barka Road area, both in Delft.
- Nyanga area, around Oscar Primary School, just off Emms Drive
- And here in the Nqubelani, Tokwana, and Umbashe Street area, Mfuleni.
We are looking at implementing a similar campaign this year aimed at promoting safety amongst our most vulnerable road user group, children.
Children, particularly small children, continue to bear the brunt of irresponsible and reckless behaviour seen on our roads, with no fewer than 59 having been either knocked down or killed in the Western Cape this year alone.
According to StatSA’s 2013 National Household Travel Survey, 50.4% (845 000) of the Western Cape’s 1,676 million population that attend an educational institution walk to and from those institutions, with the remainder being transported by either private or public transport. All of them are, in one way or the other, vulnerable for serious injury or death at the hands of reckless and irresponsible motorists.
Ladies and gentlemen
We must, as a collective, prioritise road safety as a matter of urgency. The “Safe” principles approach (safe speeds, safe people, safe roads, safe vehicles) adopted in Australia, amongst the world leaders in road safety, shows that we can make our roads safer through focussed interventions and increased awareness.
I urge all road users to adopt a positive road safety outlook and do all they can to ensure that they and their loved ones are safe at all times by:
- Not speeding.
- Not drinking and driving.
- Not drinking and walking.
- Being extra mindful of pedestrians when driving.
- Being visible to motorists when walking, particularly in the dark.
- Not using cell phones while driving.
- Ensuring that they buckle up, and most importantly that children in the vehicle are buckled up.
I should like to conclude by commending the Road Accident Fund for this initiative. You continue to play your part as a valued member of our road safety family. Let us continue to make our roads Better Together, and ensure that we all get Safely Home.
I thank you, enkosi, baie dankie