The Automobile Association (AA) South Africa has issued a warning to drivers, following the recent publication of the annual road fatality statistics for 2016.
Published by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), the AA says the statistics in the Road Traffic Report Calendar for the period 1 January to 31 December 2016 are cause for great concern, and point to an urgent need for combined interventions from everyone involved in road safety in South Africa to curb the rising numbers.
According to the figures, 14,071 people died on South African roads last year, a nine percent increase on the 2015 figure of 12,944. More than 1,120 more people died on the roads in 2016 than in 2015. 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.
Human factors are indicated as the biggest contributor to road crashes and fatalities, accounting for 77.5 percent of contributing factors. Vehicle factors (6%), and road and environmental factors (16.5%), make up the balance of contributing factors.
Among the human factors that lead to crashes, and deaths, are 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%), and driver fatigue (2.2%).
“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 AA noted that while the government plays a pivotal role in addressing the carnage on the country’s roads, motorists and pedestrians seem not to be heeding the call to drive and walk safer, and should see these numbers as a stark warning.
“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 added.