DURBAN - THE Automobile Association (AA) says urgent interventions need to be made to address the high road crash fatalities during the 2021/2022 festive season after a 14% increase was recorded compared to last year.
The announcement of the road fatalities was made by Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula during the release of the 2021 festive season fatality statistics on Monday. Mbalula said that a total of 1 685 fatalities were recorded over this festive period.
“It is disturbing to note that the Northern Cape recorded the highest increase of 97%, moving from 33 fatalities in the previous period to 65 in this period. The Western Cape equally recorded a massive 55.6% increase in the percentage of fatalities, moving from 133 fatalities in the previous period to 207 in this period. We need to get to the root cause of this drastic increase and address it in a decisive manner,” he said.
Layton Beard of the AA said the horrific figures released by Mbalula would not be dealt with effectively unless real and effective amendments were made to road safety practices.
“The fact that 1 685 people died on the country’s roads in the short period from 1 December 2021 to 11 January 2022 indicates that current approaches are simply ineffective. And unless the urgent intervention focuses on road safety education, more extensive traffic law enforcement, and better prosecution of offenders, these numbers will not reduce. Also, focusing on single aspects of road safety, such as drunk driving, while ignoring others such as pedestrian safety, will not result in significant reductions in road fatalities,” said Beard.
He said South Africa committed itself to the international target of reducing road fatalities by half by 2030 as part of the worldwide 50BY30 Campaign, but it was far from achieving the international targets it agreed to.
“Given the current road safety framework in the country – one which continually blames human error as the major cause of crashes and road deaths – these targets will remain unattainable. Unless a more comprehensive approach which focuses on safer drivers, safer roads, safer vehicles, safer speeds and better post-crash intervention, and which involves inputs from civil society organisations such as the AA, our dire road fatality statistics will never improve.”
He said the AA notes Mbalula’s announcement that the department would be appealing the ruling by the Pretoria High Court last week that the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act, and its amendments, are unconstitutional.
“The court has made its ruling, and instead of trying to revive a system which will ultimately fail, the government would be well advised to focus its energies on implementing effective road safety solutions for the country as a matter of urgency,” said Beard.