9 January 2014

South Africa: Festive Season Road Death Toll - DA Calls for Special Parliamentary Investigation & Debate

press release

The DA will be calling for a special parliamentary investigation and debate on the high death toll on South Africa's roads.

The investigation and debate should result in the recommendation of programmes that will reduce the unnecessary loss of lives on our roads, as well as a review of the manner in which these deaths are reported by the Department of Transport.

The festive season road death toll figures released today by the Minister of Transport, Dipuo Peters indicate that, at a preliminary estimation, 1 376 people lost their lives on South Africa's roads between December 1, 2013 and 7 January, 2014.

Families around South Africa have lost mothers, fathers, daughters and sons in unnecessary road traffic accidents that could have been avoided.

In order to stem the tide, a major shift is needed to drastically reduce the number of lives lost on our roads.

In the DA-run Western Cape, indications are that there will be a continued reduction in the festive season road death toll this year. The province is well on its way to reaching its goal of reducing road deaths by 50% by the end of 2014.

The Western Cape's successes are largely as a result of the implementation of innovative and practical interventions such as:

24/7 year round enforcement - not just festive season road blocks;

Removal of all un-roadworthy vehicles, unlicensed vehicles and drivers;

Innovative multimedia campaigns; and

Average Speed Over Distance (ASOD) camera enforcement technology covering a total of 351.5 kilometres of the province's most dangerous roads.

Of major concern, is the accuracy of the figures released by Minister Peters today.

The announcement of the preliminary festive season road deaths figures today, is four days early. This means that these figures do not take into account the upcoming weekend - where families will be driving from holidays to get back home in time for the new school term - one of the busiest weekends of the festive season. This is dishonest.

Furthermore, the Department of Transport uses South African Police Services (SAPS) reports to measure road deaths in the country, and not data from forensic mortuaries across the country. This lends itself to under-reporting. The Medical Research Council of SA and experts have warned against the under-reporting that results due to reliance only on SAPS reports.

The bottom line is that precious lives have been lost on our roads this festive season and Minister Peters has a responsibility to report on the matter fairly. She has not done so.

The DA trusts that this debate will be granted, and a parliamentary investigation conducted. Parliament needs to reinstate itself as the centre of problem solving in our country.

Too many have died on our roads and it is time Parliament stood up for all those who have lost loved ones on our roads.

Ian Ollis, Shadow Minister of Transport

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