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Spotlight on road safety in Africa

Written by Albert Pule
There should be more collaboration, improved infrastructure and awareness campaigns for road users throughout Africa.

This was the dominant sentiment at the second Africa Road Safety Conference held recently in Boksburg.

The conference was organised by the South African Road Federation and the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) in partner- ship with transport stakeholders.

It comes after the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011 – 2020, which was launched globally on 11 May 2011, and aims to save lives by halting the increase in road traffic deaths and injuries worldwide.

The aim of the conference was to review the progress on action to date and reinforce co- operation between road safety stakeholders.

Safer road users

Speakers deliberated on measures and action which can be taken to strengthen institutional capacity, provide safe road infrastructure, safer vehicles, safer road users, education, awareness and enforcement to ensure that fatalities and serious injuries are reduced.

Globally, more than 1. 2 million people die in road accidents annually. Of these deaths, 65 per cent involve pedestrians, with 35 per cent of them children. Annually, an estimated 50 million people are injured as a result of road accidents.

In South Africa just under 14 000 people are killed and many more injured costing the economy more than R300 billion a year.

Fatal crashes

Speaking at the conference, acting Chief Executive Officer of the RTMC Collins Letsoalo said South Africa had an unacceptably high level of fatal crashes leading to a high rate of fatalities.

“Compared to the world standards, South Africa ranks high with about 27 fatalities per 100 000 compared to 10.3 fatalities per 100 000 globally.”

He indicated that head-on collisions, multiple-crash vehicles and single overturned vehicles were the major crash types. Human error, vehicle errors, and road and environmental conditions are the major contributing factors. There was a need to develop a proper model for road traffic injuries surveillance systems that would emphasise prevention, was multi-disciplinary in nature, science based, population based and consistent, Letsoalo added