10 January 2013

South Africa: Road Death Toll - More Focus Needed On Campaigns That Entrench Behaviour Changes

press release

Transport Minister Ben Martins today released preliminary figures from the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) for national festive season road deaths.

In total, 1 221 fatal crashes were recorded between 1 December 2012 and 8 January 2013, and it is estimated that 1 465 people lost their lives during this period. The main causes of death were drunk driving, excessive speed, dangerous overtaking, not using seatbelts and unroadworthy vehicles.

It is clear that the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) is largely ineffectual in stemming the annual tide of festive season road deaths. A major shift is therefore needed in how we approach road safety.

We agree with Minister Martins that a shift in driver attitudes is needed in order to improve the situation. This will require sustained, comprehensive road safety campaigns to be implemented at all levels of government.

With the continued failure of the centrally managed RTMC to make a significant impact on road safety, provincial and local governments need to step up campaigns to promote road safety, including education campaigns in schools.

The Western Cape Government has implemented a number of successful interventions, which have helped to improve road safety. The Safely Home initiative, for example, is aimed at reducing the number of people killed on the province's roads by 50% by the end of 2014. The programme has led to a 28% reduction in road fatalities in just under three years.

Safety campaigns should focus on motivating motorists to take personal responsibility for their road safety, and for that of other road users, including pedestrians. This means wearing a seatbelt, driving within the speed limit, stopping to rest when they feel tired, and not driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Such campaigns need to be waged on an ongoing basis in order to bring about behaviour changes necessary to keep people safe on the road.

Greg Krumbock, DA Deputy Spokesperson on Transport

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