UN World Day of Remembrance a reminder of the work that must still be done
Statement by Donald Grant, Minister of Transport and Public Works
Today (20 November 2016) marks the annual World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims which commemorates the lives of those that we have lost tragically on our roads. This year, the day is being marked under the theme “From Global Remembrance to Global Action across the Decade. Vital post-crash actions: Medical Care, Investigation, Justice!”
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Status Report on Road Safety 2015 (http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/road_safety_status/2015/en/), released in November last year, states that some 1.25 million people die each year as a result of road traffic crashes. The 2016 report has yet to be released, but is likely to show a grimmer picture of the situation on our roads. Road deaths have already eclipsed malaria as a global killer and it won’t be too long before they surpass TB and AIDS. It is no surprise that the World Health Organisation refers to this scourge as a “Global Traffic Injury Pandemic”.
We know that both internationally and domestically, pedestrian deaths remain very high, with the pedestrian class of fatality being disproportionately represented in both South African and global road death statistics. The WHO Global Status Report on Road Safety 2015 identifies pedestrians and cyclists as being among the groups with the least protection, making up 22% and 4% of global deaths respectively. In the Western Cape, pedestrian deaths account for over 40% of all deaths recorded on our roads.
Just this month alone, up to 17 November 2016, 48 lives have been lost on Western Cape roads, 31 of those have been pedestrians.
Our Provincial EMS services, hospitals, and healthcare professionals carry a heavy daily burden. Responding to the carnage on our roads puts a massive responsibility on these services at great expense to the state. At last count, the National Department of Transport estimated road trauma costs to the South African economy to be R306 billion annually. The cost to the Western Cape economy is over R20 billion annually, which includes healthcare costs. Our colleagues at the Western Cape Department of Health continue to be a valued partner in our efforts to address the carnage and work towards reducing the burden of road trauma in their ERs, ICUs, hospital and outpatient services.
While we continue to work towards reducing the number of lives lost senselessly on our roads, we need our colleagues in the justice system, from SAPS through to the highest courts in the land, to join us in acknowledging the urgency of the situation. They can do this by helping us deter offenders by ensuring convictions for the serious offences perpetrated on our roads that threaten the safety of others .
As we remember the very many that have lost their lives on our roads, let us recommit ourselves to being safe and responsible road users who are mindful of the serious consequences that reckless and irresponsible road use has on our roads.