THE SOUTH AFRICAN ROAD FEDERATION (SARF) has expressed concern that the continuing spate of road accident-related deaths on our roads, shows that road safety must become an urgent priority in South Africa.
According to Mr Innocent Jumo, president of SARF, the Federation has reiterated its commitment to offer its assistance to government and other related organisations to fight the scourge of road accident related deaths in South Africa.
“The current figures are staggering,” says Mr Jumo. “An average of 43 people dies each day on our roads. In general – 15% of road accidents are caused by road condition, 20% by vehicle condition and 70% through human behavioural factors,” he adds.
SARF says that this week’s horrific accident on the N12 East, which involved a truck and well over 45 other vehicles, is yet another example of an intolerable situation. It had previously been alleged that the truck, which caused the accident, had break failure. However, it has since emerged that the driver of that vehicle has a number of previous convictions, including reckless drivingband culpable homicide. SARF believes that South Africa needs a number of urgent interventions when it comes to road safety. “These accidents are preventable, and these types of roads related injuries and deaths can be avoided in future,” says Mr Jumo.
While SARF fully supports the newly appointed Road Safety Advisory Council, and will support the Council in any way possible if requested to do so, it believes that far more is required to address road safety in South Africa. According to Mr Jumo SARF has made the identification and promotion of interventions to fight against road accidentrelated injuries and deaths one of its highest priority. At a recent Engineering Civilution Congress, hosted by SARF, a number of recommendations were made, including the State’s obligation to make road safety awareness a public priority. “It was identified that that state needs to be made aware of its obligation to take appropriate measures to ensure that parents and children have a basic knowledge about the causes and prevention of road accidents,” says Mr Jumo.
SARF also participated in a Traffic Data Management roundtable discussion where it was emphasised that the quality of existing data, together with data gathering structures and processes related to road traffic accidents are deficient. “Without reliable data, it’s impossible to define the problem and find solutions,” says Mr Jumo. “That is why we are calling on the Department of Transport to assist us in the development of a standardised reporting system that will incorporate and address the needs of all stakeholders. This will require a study to determine the status quo of the quality of existing data and data-gathering structures to identify best practices for a standardised/uniformed crash reporting system.”
During the SARF (South African Road Federation)/IRF (International Road Federation) 5th Regional Conference for Africa, held in September, Dr Peter Freeman, Consultant to the World Bank Independent Evaluation Group, emphasised that Sub-Saharan Africa has a road accident mortality rate of 32.2 deaths/100,000 people. This is double the rate observed in South East Asia and Latin America, and five times worse than the best performing European countries. He also drew attention to the fact that Argentina, through the establishment of ‘Road Safety Observatories’ had halved its road accidents and resultant injuries and deaths.
Dr Freeman emphasised that more spending on road safety is essential. He highlighted ‘Road Safety cent’ approach used in Germany, in which one US cent per litre of liquid fuel sold is devoted to funding road safety projects. In all its facets, road fatalities have been reduced from 1950 at the same levels as seen in South Africa to the current German average of 12 fatalities per day. This incidentally compares to the United Kingdom at 4.7 deaths per day where UK citizens have expressed ‘dissatisfaction’ to that level.
Dr Freeman said that there will only be change to succeed in the improvement of road safety if governments and societies accept at the highest level that improving road safety is important and urgent. A holistic approach means better policing, better accident records, better vehicle inspections and a better legal framework to prevent the importation of substandard World Bank is also considering mandatory road safety audits linked to road loans, together with community consultation on road safety aspects of projects.
“SARF fully supports this approach,” says Mr Jumo. “In the run up to SARF’s 65th Annual General Meeting we would like to make a number of recommendations to the Department ofnTransport.”
These recommendations include: A funded programmento improve road safety infrastructure, the institutionalisationnof Road Safety Auditing process on all road constructionb projects, as well as the enforcement of road worthiness of heavy vehicles.
“We would like to offer our support to the Department of Transport in this regard,” says Mr Jumo. “As a collective, we simply cannot ignore this problem. It must be given our urgent attention and the spate of unnecessary road deaths must come to an end,” he concluded.
The South African Road Federation (SARF) is an organisation dedicated to the promotion of the road industry in South Africa by dissemination of information, the promotion of sound policies and by education and training. The Federation provides contact between South Africa`s road industry sectors and facilitates the distribution of expertise throughout the diverse disciplines, which have impact and application on the industry.
SA Road Federation
011 394 9025 / 394 1459 / 394 5634 / 394 7934
Contact: Basil Jonsson