A report released in 2013 by the International Transport Forum or the ITF, rated South Africa as being ranked the worst country out of the 36 countries that took part in the study, when it came to road deaths per annum.
When they looked at developed countries, Northern United States came out at 10,4 road deaths per 100 000 inhabitants, Australia as low as 5.6 road deaths per 100 000 inhabitants. South Africa was reported, albeit classified as a Developing Country, at 27,6 road deaths per 100 000 inhabitants in 2011. This compared to other developing countries such as Argentina & Columbia at approximately 12 road deaths per 100 000 inhabitants and just behind South Africa was Malaysia at 23,8 road deaths per 100 000 inhabitants.
South Africa was not at this stage an official member of the ITF but was present as an observer and was able to take part in the study which received the data from the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC).
It was also reported that as much as 35% of all road deaths were Pedestrians. This stems from a multitude of causes, from alcohol, to crossing highways where vehicles are travelling too quickly and misjudged by the pedestrian. There has been a lot of efforts from authorities to prevent this where pedestrians caught walking on highways and the shard shoulders in South Africa are now being arrested, fences erected adjacent to common cross over points and pedestrian bridges being built to assist pedestrians to cross safely where they need to.
The costs of these road deaths each year costs South Africa around R300bil. per annum of tax payers money. This number would have increased over the last 2 years since the release of the report. In the last 20 years, statistics show that the number of vehicles on our roads had doubled, and show no signs of decreasing, despite the economy and improved public transport systems such as the Gautrain.
With all these vehicles on the road, we need to be aware and alert when it comes to the pedestrian. All too often, even at pedestrian crossings, vehicles do not slow down and give right of way to the pedestrian. Simply following laws can reduce these senseless deaths we see, respond to and attend to daily.
Being more aware of your surroundings, having a keener sense of observation where you are scanning from near too far and left to right all the time will increase the chance of you seeing a pedestrian and the possibility and risk of them walking into the path of your vehicle. There is no reason for South Africa to be the worst when it comes to Road Deaths – we have all the systems and infrastructure in place. We need to reassess our way of driving – become more patient, more alert, obey laws and traffic signs, and let’s work together as a country to reduce the carnage, save lives and make our roads a safe more accommodating place to be.