Road deaths and trauma are preventable | Western Cape Government


Road deaths and trauma are preventable

16 November 2020

World Day of Remembrance for Crash Victims was commemorated on Sunday, 15 October 2020.

First observed in 1995 by the European Federation of Road Victims, the UN General Assembly made it a global day for commemoration on 25 October 2005 for “an appropriate acknowledgement for victims of road crashes and their families”.

The objectives are to provide a platform for road traffic victims and their families to remember all people killed and seriously injured on the roads, acknowledge the crucial work of the emergency services, draw attention to the legal response to culpable road deaths and injuries, advocate for better support for road traffic victims and victim families, and promote evidence-based actions to prevent and eventually stop further road traffic deaths and injuries.

Post-traumatic stress is one of the after-effects from which people who have survived road crashes suffer. Crash survivors experience ongoing feelings of uneasiness, anxiety about driving or being driven, not wanting to have medical tests or procedures done, experience nightmares or have trouble sleeping, have memories of the accident that they are unable to control, and depression. Those malignancies often lead to substance abuse.

Traumatic head injuries are one of the leading causes of disability in South Africa – the estimate is 89 000 cases a year. According to government statistics, the most common causes of head injuries are motor vehicle crashes – half of all cases. Some of the other major causes of head injuries are falls (25%), and violence (20%).

According to the study, the long-term cost in terms of how trauma victims adjust their lives is difficult to determine.

Victims are often unable to work and unable to take care of themselves, and suffer from epilepsy and loss of income.

It is difficult to determine the cost of crashes in terms of mobility, career development and progress, and potential income. Research into the long-term effects of motor vehicle accidents in South Africa is limited.

An article in the SA Journal of Industrial Psychology in 2014 said that, 12 months after a road crash, 35% of patients reported continued difficulty walking and 26% reported continued pain that interfered with the activities of daily life. According to the article, 57% of patients “felt the financial impact of their injury was moderate to severe and caused hardship for themselves and their families”. Only 56% who had employment at the time of the accident were working again after six months.

Labour law demands that all employers from small businesses to huge companies spend significant amounts of money on employee wellness. But industrial psychology researcher Johanna Diedricks writes that amounts spent are limited and that a lack of awareness of the influence of crashes on victims often results in businesses not assisting employees.