Road death toll ‘shocking’

Occupants removing their belongings from Boston Centre.

Janine Myburgh, president, Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry

The Road Traffic Management Corporation’s report on the number of deaths on our roads is shocking but it also provides vital information on how to tackle the problem.

In all, 14 071 people died last year, about 1 127 more than in 2015.

The most disturbing thing about the report is that “human factors” are involved in 77.5 percent of fatal crashes.

We are dealing with bad driving and we must ask questions about the standards required for driver’s licences.

The report also raised serious issues about the enforcement of road safety measures. Most fatal crashes occurred on Saturdays and Sundays and at night so that is the time when we should have our traffic officers on the roads. I think the report makes a strong case for a new approach to enforcement.

Drinking and driving were generally blamed for the high accident rate but the report said that only 3.6 percent of last year’s fatal crashes involved “drunk driving or driving while on drugs”.

This raises two questions: was drunk driving under reported because crashes were not properly investigated, or was drunk driving used too often as an easy explanation for fatalities? We need answers.

The report revealed that 16.2 percent of all vehicles were registered in the Western Cape but only 9.2 percent of the fatal crashes took place here.

I think, given the number of our vehicles registered in other provinces, we are doing even better than the numbers indicate.

The elephant in the room is the municipalities and the inconsistent standards of driver testing.

I’m sure some of them are doing a good job, but the overall picture is one of failure.

We should take the job of testing drivers and issuing licences away from the municipalities and privatise it just as we did with the issuing of roadworthy certificates for cars.

We need greater involvement of the motoring organisation and the short term insurance industry which has a vested interest in reducing the accident rate.

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