Yadhana Jadoo
Political Editor
1 minute read
26 Oct 2015
9:00 am

Road safety: Forget speed, look at booze

Yadhana Jadoo

The South Africans Against Drunk Driving – SADD are “not surprised” by the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) latest Road Safety report which reveals South Africa to have more drunk-driving related deaths than anywhere else in the world, and it has called on government to urgently tackle the problem.

Picture: Thinkstock

“The chance of dying in a crash in South Africa is unacceptably high at 26.6% and we should all be outraged by the lack of proactive work being done by the government,” the organisation’s Caro Smit said.

“Crashes are the leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds, cost SA about R307 billion or 7.8% of our GDP which is money that we can ill afford and could be better used to pay University students fees. SADD are not surprised by this considering both drivers are not tested for alcohol at crash scenes, as recommended by WHO, and how few people are randomly tested for alcohol.”

She said in addition the evidential breathalyser has not been reinstated even though they are accurate and allow swift prosecution and “allow quick sentencing such as giving fines; jail time for those who kill or seriously injure someone; and suspension of licences. These are all methods used by countries that are serious about bringing down crash rates”.

South Africa also scored “an abysmal” 4/10 for drink driving enforcement, with too much effort and time being spent on speed infringements. In addition the conviction rate of those caught is only about 7% in some provinces.

“The Department of Justice and the SA Police Service do not see drink driving as the costly and serious crime,” said Smit.

“There is still a feeling of ‘let’s give them another chance’ and in so doing, not many offenders are charged.”

Some are put into diversion programs where they are given a little slap on a wrist with no record or follow up of their drink driving. According to the United Nation’s Road Safety Collaboration drinking and driving is one of the main causes of road crashes worldwide.