Esteemed Members Distinguished guests Ladies and gentlemen
It is a very unfortunate reality that road fatalities have become the major cause of unnatural death in the world today. In South Africa, approximately 40 people die every day due to road crashes and this adds up to approximately 14000 people dying annually.
South Africa’s mortality rate of 28 per 100 000 citizens dying as a result of road fatalities, is regrettably amongst the highest in the world. Available data and evidence indicates that young people are the main victims of road fatalities. Road fatalities result in a huge socio-economic cost, estimated at R306 billion per annum.
There are various contributory factors behind this dire and grave reality; these include reckless and negligent human behaviour, defective motor vehicle conditions, road and environmental conditions.
Amongst the most prevalent human causes are alcohol abuse, pedestrian jaywalking on the road, passengers and drivers not using safety belts, excessive speed too high for circumstances, dangerous overtaking, and driver fatigue. Compliance with the law remains a huge challenge. In particular, we have noted that only 2% of backseat passengers use safety belts, compared to 60% of drivers and front seat passengers who comply with the requirement.
With regard to motor vehicle factors, the main causes are tyre bursts, faulty brakes and faulty steering wheels. There are many vehicles on our roads that are not in a road worthy condition yet these have been issued with road worthy certificates due to fraud and corruption, at some of the testing stations. We have instructed law enforcement agencies to use the full might of the law to address this plague of corruption, that results in crashes and fatalities in many instances.
There are also causes, that are related to road and environmental conditions, these include the poor condition of road surfaces, dangerous hair pin bends, and inclement weather conditions that lead to poor visibility.
Human factors contributed 82, 8 % to fatal crashes in 2009 and 84.9% in 2010. Defective vehicles contributed 9.13% in 2009 and 5.79% in 2010. Road and environmental factors were lower at 8.02% in 2009 and 9.3% in 2010.
Available statistics and data reveal that passengers and pedestrians are the main victims of road fatalities. In 2009, 36% of the people who died were passengers, followed by 34% who were pedestrians and 30% who were drivers. In 2010, passengers accounted for 38% while the number of pedestrians and drivers stood at 33% and 29%, respectively.
The success of the enforcement measures on the major national and provincial roads indicates that greater attention should now be given to secondary routes in townships, villages and suburbs. This process has been started. The analysis of the data, road safety campaigns and trends will further guide the Department of Transport as we review current road safety strategies.
The Department of Transport continues to regard road safety as one of its main programmes. The urgent drive to reduce road fatalities by half in 2020 is consistent with the decision of the United Nations General Assembly which declared the period 2011-2020 as the Decade for Road Safety. All members of the United Nations are united in achieving this common goal. .
The Department mainly carries out its road safety function through its agencies, namely, the Road Accident Fund (RAF), the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) and the Cross Border Road Transport Agency (CBRTA). These are the main implementation agencies of the Department of Transport on road safety issues.
SANRAL also plays a significant role by including safety measures when constructing new roads or rehabilitating existing ones. SANRAL’s interventions include constructing pedestrian bridges and speed calming measures in densely populated areas where the national road network passes through communities.
Provinces and municipalities also implement safety programmes and measures in conjunction with the National Department of Transport.
Our national, provincial and local government strategies include more stringent law enforcement, public education and awareness campaigns and direct support to vulnerable sectors of society like indigent learners who have to cross busy roads on their way to and from schools.
We are presently improving co-ordination between the different spheres of government in order to achieve common objectives.
The causes of road fatalities are many. The level of our success in reducing road fatalities will depend on the role played by all stakeholders and communities hence we will continue with the public education and awareness programmes, while at the same time, strengthening law enforcement measures.
In conclusion, I call upon all South Africans to join hands with the Department of Transport as we continue with our endeavours to reduce road fatalities. Making our roads safe is the responsibility of all of us.
Let us spread the message: GET THERE, NO REGRETS! THANK YOU