Urgent Intervention Needed To Curb Road Deaths and Injuries
Speech by Donald Grant, Minister of Transport and Public Works at the RAF on the Road campaign event in Mfuleni.
- Programme Director.
- Road Accident Fund General Manager, Mr Malose Mongwe.
- Ms Agnes Masangu, and other representatives of the Road Accident Fund.
- Ward Councilor Honono and other representatives from the City of Cape Town.
- Mr Mandla Mata and Mr Danny Joseph from SANTACO.
- Chairperson of the Mfuleni Development Forum, Mr Thembani Thaka.
- Mr Padu, Chief Ambulance Officer at the Western Cape Department of Health.
- Engineering Manager for SANRAL in this region, Mr Randall Cable.
- Brigadier Beaton, and other SAPS Management present here today.
- Ladies and Gentlemen.
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. 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 32 deaths per 100 000 of the population and ranking 177th out of 182 countries investigated by the World Health Organisation.
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 entirely preventable through the adoption of the necessary life-saving interventions and practices, and by changing behaviours and attitudes towards road safety.
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 though our information-driven approach to road safety, and the use of 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.
One such innovation is our Average Speed Over Distance (ASOD) camera enforcement technology, which calculates the average speed of a vehicle from the time it passes the first camera until it passes the second camera. Our ASOD system has, since last Easter, been extended from the R61 (Beaufort West to Aberdeen) to the N1 (Three sisters to Beaufort West, then to Laingsburg), and further on to the R27 (Melkbosstrand to Saldanha). This means that a total of 351.1 km of the Province’s most dangerous roads are now covered by the ASOD system, with more stretches of road set to be covered by the system in the near future. This system has resulted in close to a 50% reduction in speeding offences recorded since the initial implementation of the system, as well as a sharp decline in the number of fatal crashes on these stretches of road.
The Western Cape remains the only province in the country to have a 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.
Our successful Fatigue Management campaign (which has seen a marked drop in the number of fatal public transport crashes) has been implemented since 2010 on all of our major routes to combat the serious threats to safety posed by fatigued drivers. Long-distance public transport is required to have at least two drivers available for these long trips. 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 continues to support our safety efforts through its own safety campaign “Hlokomela”, which has been effective in the past. Weighbridges across the province have been utilised to inspect heavy vehicles to ensure compliance, with our impoundment facilities playing their part in impounding vehicles that are deemed unfit for travel.
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.
These interventions targeted at children are particularly important as the most vulnerable road users are pedestrians, and the most vulnerable pedestrians are children - with most of them being young children from poorer communities in the Metro. In 2013, for example, of the 191 children killed on the roads in the province, 127 were run over, and 90 of these child pedestrians were aged 10 years or younger. This year, from 1 January 2014 to 31 August 2014, there have been 133 child deaths (ages 0 to 19).
Of those, there were 85 pedestrians (64%), 32 passengers, six motorcyclists, one motorcycle pillion (passenger), two drivers and seven other. Of the 85 pedestrian deaths, 59 were aged 0 to 10 years of age (69.4%). 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.
During this Transport Month, Safely Home will be running 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. 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.
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 focused 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.