17 January 2014
South Africa’s Department of Transport is to look into setting up a reliable statistical data bank for road accidents, says Transport Minister Dipuo Peters.
“The data bank would not only assist in ensuring accurate figures regarding road-related incidents, but would guide how the government responds to challenges of road carnage in the country,” Peters said in a statement on Tuesday.
Peters called for scientific analysis and knowledge sharing by relevant sectors of society to find ways to reduce road deaths. Currently, the department and other law enforcement authorities depend solely on the South African Police Service for accident statistics and information on road-related incidents.
Road-related incidents, “particularly the major ones with fatal consequences, should be thoroughly analysed in order for us to come up with remedial actions that would prevent further recurrences,” she said.
Peters said her she would consult with other state entities, the private sector and civil society, with a planned approach that would see these stakeholders working together to address preventative and responsive measures.
“Traffic authorities in all three spheres of government should work closely together to ensure sharing of information and best practices,” she said, adding: “We also need to have our research bodies in government on board to explore innovative means of addressing the challenge of road carnage.”
Slight decrease in death toll
The 2013/2014 festive season death toll on South Africa’s roads declined slightly, according to preliminary figures released by the Department of Transport last week.
The figures how that from 1 December to 7 January there were 1 147 crashes with 1 376 fatalities. Last year, 1 465 people died on South Africa’s roads during the festive season.
The causes of the accidents remained the same, including avoidable and manageable behaviours such as drunk driving, disobeying the speed limit, reckless overtaking, driver fatigue, failure to wear seatbelts, unroadworthy vehicles and unlicensed and illegally licensed drivers.
Peters said a total of 845 road blocks were conducted during the festive season, during which 745 782 vehicles were stopped, 201 473 notices were issued, 2 399 vehicles were discontinued and 2 449 were impounded. At the same time, a total of 3 170 drunk drivers were arrested, while a further 69 were arrested for dangerous and negligent driving.
Legislating of driving schools
Peters said her department was in the process of legislating driving schools “to eliminate random and uncontrolled mushrooming of such schools which exacerbates corruption and endangers lives on the roads.
“These [unregistered] schools contribute to the road carnage we are currently experiencing,” she said.
“Ours is a 365 days commitment and action to road safety. We shall relentlessly address issues of education, engineering and enforcement as the three pillars upon which our 365 days campaign is anchored”.