‘No chance’ of halving road deaths

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IOL mot pic feb20 Road Deaths INLSA A teddy bear lies in the road at the scene of an accident in Cape Town in which four people died, one of them the little boy whose teddy it was. Picture: Matthew Jordaan

South Africa’s road safety agency has admitted there is no chance it will meet its goal of halving road deaths by 2015.

Road Traffic Management Corporation acting chief executive Refilwe Mongale said there had been 13 932 road deaths in the past financial year, an increase of 130 over the same period two years ago.

Deaths had, however, decreased from a high of 15 515 in 2006/7.

The corporation said it was still battling problems ranging from low morale, high staff turnover and corruption to an inability to co-ordinate road death prevention programmes across all nine provinces.

It added that a lack of resources hampered its work.

The body - which ensures “safety, security, order, discipline and mobility” on the roads - was reporting to the National Council of Provinces oversight committee on public services and administration on its efforts to cut road deaths.

Mongale said the corporation was looking at a number of new initiatives, including a drive to add road safety to the school curriculum.

It has a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Basic Education to launch this initiative.

Mongale said the “24/7 shift system”, which was supposed to be operational in all provinces, had become “deadlocked”, with only the Western Cape implementing it thus far.

The system aims to have traffic officers patrolling roads 24 hours a day, with a heavy presence from evening to midnight on weekends, when traffic infringements peak.

Mongale said corruption was still “quite rife”.

She adding that “low morale, leading to high staff turnover” had hobbled the corporation’s efforts, but that the recently formed national traffic anti-corruption unit would help tackle graft.

Stalled programmes such as assigning ratings to all roads based on their condition and the regular testing of all cars for roadworthiness were also set to be rolled out in the future, Mongale said.

To achieve the corporation’s stated goal of cutting road deaths by half by 2015 from 2005 levels, the rate would have to decrease to 7158.

According to the World Health Organisation, South Africa has not only more road deaths than fellow Brics members (30 people in 1000), but also one of the highest rates in Africa. - Cape Argus

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