South Africa’s shocking road death numbers at highest level in 10 years

 ·9 Jun 2017

The AA has released new data on road fatalities in South Africa for 2016, showing an alarming jump in death on local roads from 2015, and recording the highest number of road deaths in the past 10 years.

According to the AA, 2016 saw 14,071 people die on South Africa’s roads – a significant jump from 12,944 deaths recorded in 2015, a 9% increase, with over 1,120 more people dying, year-on-year.

This is the highest annual road death toll since 2007 when 14,920 people died on South African roads. In 2006, 15,419 people died on the country’s roads, the AA said.

“These figures are alarming, and should worry every motorist in the country. These numbers seem to indicate that awareness campaigns and education initiatives are not working well enough, driver attitudes are getting worse, and that law enforcement is not making the impact it should.

“We are deeply concerned about these fatalities, more so because they show an increase, and call for urgent action from all role-players involved in road safety to reverse this,” the AA said.

The group pointed out that pedestrians remain the most vulnerable of all road users; 5,410 of the 14,071 deaths recorded in 2016 were pedestrians, or 38% of the total number.

Human factors are indicated as the biggest contributor to road crashes and fatalities, accounting for 77.5% of contributing factors. Vehicle factors (6%), and road and environmental factors (16.5%), make up the balance.

These are recorded among the human factors that most lead to crashes, and deaths:

  • Jaywalking pedestrians – 38.8%
  • Hit and run crashes – 18.5%
  • High speed – 14.1%
  • Overtaking in the face of oncoming traffic – 6.9%
  • Drunk driving or driving while on drugs – 3.6%
  • Driver fatigue – 2.2%

The statistics show Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal have the highest percentage of road deaths in the country, each contributing just under 20% to the national total.

In Gauteng 2,700 people died on the roads, while 2,715 died in KwaZulu-Natal. The Northern Cape (409 deaths), the Free State (992 deaths), and North West (1,084 deaths) had the lowest death rates contributing 2.9%, 7%, and 7.7% the national total respectively.

“Too often motorists are driving recklessly or not obeying the rules of the road. Similarly, pedestrians are not protecting themselves by being more visible to cars, or are taking chances crossing over roads where they shouldn’t.

“More effort is needed by both groups of road users, and more effort is needed by organisations involved in road safety to make safety a priority,” the AA said.

“Unfortunately there is a perception among road users that traffic offences aren’t serious and aren’t effectively dealt with in court. Through a more consistent handling of traffic offences in court, this perception will change, and hopefully, errant drivers will realise they are not above the law,” it said.

Read: South African road deaths vs the world

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