Brace yourself for carnage on the roads

Image: Netcare911

Among the frightening statistics is that road traffic accidents are the most common cause of child deaths in South Africa.

It is December 6, schools are done for the year, as is everyone else after the year-long pounding by the rand, blackouts, fuel price increases, cost of living increases, politics and politicians, and it’s time for the carnage on the roads to begin.

People are going to head on to mostly the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Western Cape’s roads in their thousands – and it’s going to be a one-way ticket for many.

Except it’s no longer just the coming festive season road users should worry about – it’s the everyday bloodshed on South African roads which far outstrips any holiday season.

Up to 2,155 deaths as a result of 1,940 collisions are believed to have happened in Gauteng between January and October this year, while Western Cape MEC for transport Bonginkosi Madikizela said in September more than 1,300 people were killed on Western Cape roads “every year”.

Up-to-date statistics were simply unavailable on the other province’s websites.

The most recent is the 2017 State of Road Safety Report, supplied by Advocate Johan Jonck of Arrive Alive, who noted deaths and injuries among pedestrians and motorists were a year-round problem.

According to the Road Traffic Management Annual Report for 2018-19, 14,071 deaths were recorded across SA in 2016, which went down to 14,050 in 2017, and 12,921 in 2018.

According to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, 3,740 South Africans died as a result of firearms in 2016.

Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) chief executive Makhosini Msibi acknowledged in his 2018-19 annual report the RTMC would not meet the United Nation Decade of Action goal to reduce road fatalities by 50% by 2020, with 2010 as the baseline.

“We are, however, confident we have made progress,” Msibi said.

The report noted KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, Eastern Cape, Limpopo, and Mpumalanga contributed the highest number of fatalities year-round.

Two University of Cape Town researchers, Centre for Transport Studies’ Professor Marianne Vanderschuren and the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital Professor Sebastian van As, found in June that road traffic accidents were the most common cause of child deaths in South Africa.

For every child who died, there were about 10 to 20 who were injured, the report stated.

“While there are many causes of death for babies under the age of one, thereafter and until they reach 18, trauma is the main killer of children.”

The duo also found the number of fatalities from road traffic accidents was between 14,000 and 17,000 people annually and 47 daily, depending on which source was used, said Vanderschuren.

Department of transport spokesperson Sam Monareng said the number of people dying on roads was high.

“Evidence shows 90% of fatalities are caused by human conduct and attitude,” Monareng said. “This means that road deaths can be prevented if South Africans can change their conduct when on the roads.”

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