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Road fatality numbers are a continuing national crisis

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South Africa’s annual road fatality statistics for 2022 paint a grim picture of the dire road safety situation on the country’s roads and point to the need for more intensive action to curb what the Automobile Association (AA) considers a national crisis.

Released at the end of May, the Road Traf­fic Management Corporation’s (RTMC) State of Road Safety in South Africa (January 2022 to De­cember 2022) notes that 12 436 people died on South African roads last year. Of these fatalities, 5 347 (or 43%) were pedestrians. Last year’s road fatality rate is marginally lower than the 12 541 deaths recorded in 2021.

“Since 2013, 126 546 people have died on our country’s roads. This is unacceptable and tragic, and while the RTMC notes that efforts have been made to improve the road safety environment, these are clearly not enough as our fatality rate only declines slightly year-on-year. Much more focus should be placed on road safety, especially by the RTMC, than what is currently being done,” says the AA.

According to the figures released by the RTMC, around 276 000 speeding violations were issued last year (the majority of which – 58% – in Gauteng), and in excess of 11 000 drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol.

“Our country has a culture of driving with im­punity where drivers regularly flout the law be­cause of a lack of consequences. Speeding, drunk driving, and texting while driving is commonplace because there is simply not enough law enforce­ment to curb it. We again call on the Department of Transport to urgently implement the recom­mendations of the 2019 Traffic Law Enforcement Review Committee which, among other interven­tions, called for the number of traffic law enforc­ers in the country to be doubled,” says the AA.

While the Vehicle Testing Association wel­comes these initiatives from the Minister of Transport they still firmly believe that the best way to enhance the planned safety initiatives and decrease road fatalities would be for the minister to urgently set a date for the implementation of periodic testing of vehicles which has been on the cards for several years now.

There are several examples in the world where the implementation of vehicle inspection controls has not only made a positive impact on road safety and reduced road fatalities but also positively changed the culture of road safety by impacting driver consciousness and conscientiousness.

The RMI will be continuing their efforts this year to engage with Gov­ernment in addressing the urgent issue of more frequent vehicle testing.