Road Accident Fund On the Road Stakeholder Engagement Session
- Programme Director.
- Councillor Wessie van der Westhuizen, Executive Mayor of the Eden District Municipality.
- Councillor Daniel Maritz, Deputy Mayor of the Eden District Municipality.
- Road Accident Fund Chief Operating Officer, Ms Lindelwa Jabavu.
- Mr Daniel du Plessis, Regional Manager of the Road Accident Fund.
- Advocate Dimakatso Qocha, and other representatives of the Road Accident Fund.
- Reverend Ndlanzi from the Western Cape Church Council.
- Ms Heidi Harper from SANRAL Western Cape.
- Mr Jacques Louwrens from ER24 Southern Region.
- Mr Rochelle Kock and Mr A Buys from the Western Cape Education Department’s Safe School’s Coordinator.
- Mr Dibela and Mr Mata from SANTACO Western Cape.
- Ms D Wewers from SASSA’s George District Office.
- Brigadier Phumzile Cetyana from the SAPS George District, and other SAPS officials present here today.
- Ladies and Gentlemen.
All protocol observed.
Good morning, Goeie more, Molweni. Let me begin by extending my sincere gratitude for being afforded the opportunity to be here and to address you all today. Let me also thank all of the previous speakers at this very important event here in Thembalethu today. The world is currently facing a growing pandemic of road traffic deaths and injuries, and South Africa is no exception. We must do whatever we can to counter tackle this pandemic head-on. If this gathering here today can contribute to this and to improve the circumstances of the unfortunate victims of road crashes, it will indeed be time well spent.
Road injury is now amongst the leading causes of death globally, with 1.3 million people killed in 2012 alone. 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 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 grim statistics reveal the harsh reality of a situation that demands our urgent intervention. Road deaths affect us all in some way or another, and 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 October, for example, we used a community radio campaign and posters with images of local children to target young child pedestrian fatalities in poorer communities, with focus on specific hotspots in Nyanga, Mfuleni, Makhaza and Delft.
We experienced record low fatalities in this vital category in November and the numbers have thus far remained low. The campaign continues to play on stations serving our most vulnerable communities, resulting in more and more young lives being saved.
The festive season saw the launch of our hard-hitting “When You Drink and Drive, It’s No Accident” radio campaign which continues to run until the end of February. We recognise that drunk pedestrian fatalities represent as big a problem as drivers who are under the influence. Therefore, simultaneously, through the “Have You Been Drinking?” campaign, we are targeting communities where drinking and walking fatalities are commonplace, and specifically addressing the young men who represent by far the bulk of this category.
The Eden district, like other parts of the Western Cape, is highly affected by the carnage on our roads. In 2014 alone, 127 lives were lost on the roads of the Eden district, mostly here in George, with a large proportion of those deaths being pedestrian deaths. We are committed to implementing innovative interventions that will see these numbers continue to decrease with more and more lives saved from such unnecessary injury or death.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Western Cape remains the only province in the country to have 24 hour-a-day, 7 day-a-week, 365 days-a-year traffic law enforcement, with our traffic officers dedicated to making our roads safer for our many road users.
We are also the only province to conduct regular Weekend Alcohol Blitzes targeting drunk drivers across the province, and we will continue to be steadfast in ensuring that these drivers are taken off our roads and not allowed to threaten the safety of others.
We are very happy that our road safety partners in the mini-bus taxi industry travelling on the long-distance routes have realised the serious threat to passenger safety posed by a fatigued driver and are also ensuring that no one driver is behind the wheel for long periods of time.
SANTACO, who are present here today, continues to support our safety efforts through its own safety campaign “Hlokomela”, which has been effective in the past. Our joint interventions, particularly along the R61, have resulted in a large reduction in fatal crashes on that particular stretch of road.
There has also been a special focus on Learner Transport that has seen daily stops and checks on learner transport since October 2010. An agreement with the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has seen only Provincial Traffic being able to test learner transport buses for roadworthiness as well as for compliance with transport regulations. We also have various other initiatives, including scholar transport operations which target privately contracted scholar transport, as well as regular scholar patrols aimed at making our roads safer for school children.
During Transport Month in October 2014, Safely Home ran an online campaign focused on the plight of children, particularly child pedestrians, under our Twitter hashtag #SafeRoadsSafeKids, with various activities encouraging drivers to exercise extreme caution when travelling in high child pedestrian areas like schools.
In the five months since the campaign was launched, we have seen a 40% reduction in small child pedestrian fatalities. The deaths of children, aged 10 years and younger, have decreased from 12 in the five months prior to October 2014, to seven deaths in the five months since the campaign began. According to the Medical Research Council’s National Injury Mortality Survey 2012, children aged 0 to 19 years account for 16% of total deaths in this country, with the percentage slightly lower in the Western Cape. We have recently launched an interactive map on the Safely Home website depicting some of these chilling statistics. We will continue to work very closely with our road safety partners, particularly with our partners in the media who have been critical to the success of Safely Home, in conveying this, and other road safety messages, in the near future.
Ladies and gentlemen, we must, as a country, 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.
Let’s make our roads Better Together, and ensure that we all get Safely Home.