Cape Town - About 17000 people in South Africa die each year, 47 every day, of which many are children.
In South Africa, the main causes of childhood deaths are not HIV or tuberculosis - but road traffic crashes, drownings and burns.
This is according to Professor Sebastian Van As, chairperson of Childsafe and head of the Trauma Unit at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.
Van As was speaking at the Safe Travel to School 5th Annual Awards yesterday, where the school transport programme was celebrating the success of the safe school transporters.
He said South Africa was 10 times more unsafe than countries like Germany and Japan, ranked the worst out of 36 countries when it comes to road safety. He added that children were 10 times more likely to end up in hospital because of injury.
The award honours the safest school transporter on the programme and recognises all school transporters, who have ensured the safe arrival of nearly 19000 children to school and back home, during the past year, across the province.
The Safe Travel to School Programme (STTS), which launched in 2014, is a collaboration between Discovery and Childsafe - aiming to help make the daily journey, to and from school a safer one for children, by focusing on the learner transport driver.
Discovery Insure chief executive Anton Ossip said: “Every day, thousands of Western Cape children are driven to school and back, along high risk routes, in non-roadworthy vehicles, and by drivers who often drive recklessly. Through a series of interventions, the programme aims to develop cohorts of safer, more reliable, more road-safety aware drivers”.
Ossop said that after they saw reports of these “horrific accidents” six years ago, they knew they needed to do something.
The winners won petrol vouchers for best safe drivers and most improved drivers, but the winner of the day - who took the grand prize of a minibus taxi worth R420000 - was Petoris Wagner from Kraaifontein.
“With the daily challenges we face on the road everyday, it is comforting to know that we have support,” Wagner said.
With the programme's success in the Western Cape, Ossip said they were planning to expand it nationally.