File picture: David Ritchie / Independent Media.

Johannesburg - Graphics released by the Automobile Association following last week’s announcement of the 2017 road fatality figures, paint a grim picture about the carnage on South Africa’s roads.

According to road fatality statistics released by the RTMC, a total of 14 050 people died on South Africa’s roads in 2017, and although that figure is slightly lower than the previous year, it’s still higher than any year from 2008 to 2015.

The AA says the latest stats are a further indication of the need for urgent road safety intervention on the country’s roads. 

It added that interventions in curbing pedestrian deaths should be key focus to reduce overall fatality statistics.

In the last 10 years pedestrians have accounted for between 34% and 38% of all road deaths, with passengers making up around 34% and drivers less than 30%.

In fact, cutting the pedestrian death rate by half would bring the national figures down by almost 20%.

Urgent action needed

The AA suggests creating extensive countrywide pedestrian education campaigns as a possible solution, along with safer public transport options and creating a safer environment for pedestrians to commute, particularly on busy roads. A swifter introduction of crash avoidance technology in vehicles was also suggested.

“Seen against the backdrop of the fatality statistics the past ten years (from 2008) these numbers prove that current road safety initiatives are simply not working,” the AA said.

“Since then, almost 135 000 people died in road crashes in South Africa. This is a shocking number which, without urgent intervention, genuine commitment from all role-players, and a complete change in the attitude of all road users, will never significantly decrease”.

The AA also urged road users to take more personal responsibility as government could only do so much to improve road safety.

“Unfortunately too many South Africans have an extremely bad attitude towards safe road use, and all the education and enforcement in the world will not stop those intent on playing by their own rules. Without a change of attitude among road users – and, importantly, a respect for the law - efforts to decrease fatalities and crashes by a noticeable margin will fall flat.” the association concluded.

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