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Over 8 000 young people perished on South African roads in three years

8 547 young people between the ages of 21 and 34 died on roads over three years. Image: Matthew Jordaan

8 547 young people between the ages of 21 and 34 died on roads over three years. Image: Matthew Jordaan

Published Jun 22, 2022

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South Africa is experiencing an alarming epidemic of deaths among its youth due to road crashes.

Gauteng had the highest number of fatalities followed by KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.

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A total of 8 547 young people between the ages of 21 and 34 died on roads over three years (2019 to 2021) according to statistics collated by the Road Traffic Management Corporation.

RTMC spokesperson Simon Zwane said the worst affected age category is those aged between 30 and 34, with 3 661 of them dying due to road crashes.

Zwane said the alarming statistics serve as a clarion call to young people to prioritise road safety as they engage in Youth Month festivities this month.

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He said factors that contribute to the high number of road fatalities among the youth include persistent risk-taking behaviour such as reluctance to use safety belts, driving at speeds too high for travel circumstances and driving under the influence of alcohol.

Zwane said the provinces with the highest number of road fatalities among the youth are Gauteng with 1 380 deaths, followed by KwaZulu Natal with 1 235 fatalities, the Eastern Cape with 1 201 and Limpopo with 1127.

He said the four provinces accounted for 57.8% of fatalities among the youth.

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Mpumalanga accounted for 968 fatalities among the youth, followed by the Western Cape with 932, Free State with 830, North West with 640, and the Northern Cape with 234.

Zwane said the RTMC called for high levels of awareness about road safety among the youth as road fatalities in this age category of society had a devastating impact on the economy and the future of the country.

He said it has been estimated that fatal crashes cost the economy R188.31 billion last year based on the 10 611 fatal crashes recorded in the period, with the loss of 12 545 lives.

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RTMC CEO advocate Makhosini Msibi said South Africa faces a crisis on its roads and most of the victims were in the economically active age group needed for the development of the country.

“It is saddening to read in road-crash investigation reports that in most cases people die on the roads because of failure to use safety belts. In many instances it has been found that safety belts have been cut off or tied under the seats of vehicle and thus could not be used to save lives,” Msibi said.

He called on road users, road safety advocates and law enforcement officials to join hands to reduce the rising trend of road deaths among young people.

The RTMC supports the World Health Organization recommendation that traffic-calming measures should be constructed in areas with high levels of pedestrian traffic to reduce vehicle speed and save lives.

Provincial breakdown of the 8 547 young people between the ages of 21 and 34 who died on roads over three years:

Gauteng 1 380 deaths

KwaZulu Natal 1 235

Limpopo 1 127

Eastern Cape 1 201

Limpopo 1 127

Western Cape 932

Free State 830

North West 640

Northern Cape 234

Fatal crashes cost the economy R188.31bn last year based on 10 611 fatal crashes

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