Road death toll flawed, says Cape MECComment on this story
Cape Town - Western Cape Transport MEC Robin Carlisle has contested National Transport Minister Dipuo Peters’s figures on the province’s festive season road deaths labelling it “intrinsically flawed”.
Peters told a media briefing in Pretoria yesterday 1 376 people had been killed in 1 147 crashes on the country’s roads between December 1 and January 7. There were 1 558 deaths and 1 247 crashes in 2012/13.
She said that in the Western Cape, 95 crashes resulted in 114 fatalities. Carlisle said his department’s records showed 129 people died on the province’s road – a decrease from 153 in 2011/12.
“We have long cautioned against the use of South African Police Service (SAPS) reports to gauge the situation on our roads. Figures released by minister Peters lend themselves to under-reporting and are unreliable. It is virtually impossible to plan and implement effective road safety interventions and bring down the death rate on our roads when information relied upon is so intrinsically flawed,” Carlisle said.
He said his department used the final daily records from the provincial Forensic Pathology Services.
“We have 37 mortuaries in the province. Every day they tally the bodies in categories like road deaths, homicides, suicides and so forth. Thus their information is more accurate than that of the SAPS.
All bodies end up at a mortuary. If for example eight people are killed in one accident and they are taken to five different hospitals. It would be difficult for SAPS to track all those people if they had all died. But one call to a mortuary and you have all the details from one trusted source,” Carlisle said.
Peters’s spokesman, Tiyani Rikhotso, and his counterpart in the national Department of Transport Sam Monareng could not be reached for comment.
Peters said an analysis of the festive season’s road death toll indicated most incidents had been due to irresponsible and disrespectful conduct.
THE BIG CAUSES
Major reasons for crashes included drunk driving, speeding, reckless overtaking, failure to wear seatbelts and unlicensed or illegally licensed drivers. She dismissed criticism that the release of yesterday’s figures was premature.
“I am not going to respond to those who are sitting outside and barking when people are losing their lives. In fact, what we need to do is to capture numbers every day and notify South Africans on how many people are dying on our roads.”
“I am not going to be bothered about what other parties are saying. We are governing South Africa on behalf of the people. Those who say we shouldn’t have released the statistics, they can continue speaking, we have work to do.”
Peters was responding to criticism by DA MP Ian Ollis who said the reporting period would end on Monday.
Yesterday’s release of the figures meant potential fatalities during a busy weekend, when many people returned home ahead of schools re-opening, would be excluded, he said.