Motoring News, road safety

Year-end road-death toll: Are SA drivers barking mad?

SHATTERED LIVES: Image: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG, Gauteng – 176 men, women and children died when a Boeing 737 was hit by two Iranian ground-to-air missiles in early January 2020.

While tragic, that death toll pales against the number of people – vehicle occupants and pedestrians – who died on South African roads during the Christmas/New Year holiday season.

The slaughter on South African roads during the December 2019/January 2020 period took 1617 human lives, more than nine times the death toll in Iran about the same as a year’s total in Britain – 1793 for the whole of 2017.

DOWN ON PREVIOUS YEAR

The only ”good” news was that South African road deaths were (according to government figures) 10% down on that of the previous year-end total.

See the road death rate in countries around the world

Road events commentator and MD of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, says the reduction was to be commended but added: “We still have some way to go. The  South African road-death toll in six weeks is close to what countries such as Namibia, Lesotho and Gambia combined see in a whole year.”

Of course their populations are far smaller than that of SA; a better comparison might be Britain, which has a population similar to that of South Africa.

READ MORE Eugene Herbert traffic features

Herbert added: “The number of people arrested or penalised for reckless driving suggests that this remains a major cause behind the number of crashes. South Africans should take these statistics to heart.

”The thought of nine Boeing 737 crashes is sobering but if you were to make a similar analogy for the entire year’s road fatalities it is equal to 80 plane crashes of the severity of that in Iran.”

DRIVERS MUST POLICE THEMSELVES

What can be done about it. Herbert agaln: “Before we can change the driving behaviour of others we need to look at ourselves yet a perception exists among South African drivers – particularly minibus taxi drivers – believe they are entitled to commit offences because other drivers do so and get away with it.

“Another concerning perception is that change on the roads lies solely in the hands of law enforcement but traffic cops alone cannot be responsible for the needed magnitude of change.

”We should not become a nation that bases our decision to drive recklessly on whether or not we are caught by police. Every driver must to commit to driving defensively and within the confines of the law if we are to see genuine change.”

Other stats revealed during this period:

kwaZulu-Natal had the most deaths, followed by Gauteng and Limpopo.
The greatest reductions in deaths were in the Free State, Mpumalanga, and the Western Cape – with the Western Case having the least.

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