It is National Transport Month and a good time for South Africans to deal with some serious, transport-related concerns, not least the human and wildlife carnage that occurs daily on our roads, reports the South Coast Herald.
The Medical Research Council has released some frightening facts about this. According to the council, on average, 45 people die and 410 are injured on our roads every day. This means South Africa has a staggering 18 000 road deaths a year, one of the highest death rates in the world. The Council for Scientific Research has pointed out that road crashes cost South Africa R309 billion each year.
However, it is not just humans who are killed or injured on our deadly roads.
What isn’t widely publicised is the fact that wildlife is also significantly affected by road collisions. Insurance claims suggest that about R82.5 million is paid each year to victims of collisions with wildlife. The biodiversity costs of these collisions are never calculated.
With many wildlife species coming under increasing pressure from human development, there is a need for guidance on the planning of environmentally sustainable transport infrastructure.
Developed by the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT): “The Road Ahead: Guidelines to mitigation methods to address wildlife road conflict in South Africa” has just been released, and those involved in the project are using National Transport Month as a platform for its launch.
It is the first handbook to offer key information for reducing the impact of wildlife habitats and roads. It also provides solutions for improved driver safety and the conservation of biodiversity and the environment.
Wendy Collinson, spokesperson for the EWT Wildlife and Roads Project, said: “October, being Transport Month in South Africa, the emphasis is placed on the safety of all road users. That includes you, your family, your friends and our wildlife.”
EWT strongly believes that, by working with those within the transport sector, it is possible to design infrastructure and support services that ensure the safety of both transportation users and wildlife.
Furthermore, such infrastructure should support the economic needs of the country by enabling the goals of the National Infrastructure Plan (2012) and the National Development Plan (2013).
The handbook is intended for the use by a range of people and organisations including road development agencies, environmental assessment practitioners, the department of environmental affairs, the department of transport and research institutions.
– Caxton News Service