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More than 8,500 people aged 21 to 34 died on SA roads in three years

Drinking and driving, refusing to wear seat belts and excessive speed largely to blame

Tshwane Emergency Services on the scene after a bus and truck collided on the M17 in Patryshoek, near Tshwane, on June 10 2022.
Tshwane Emergency Services on the scene after a bus and truck collided on the M17 in Patryshoek, near Tshwane, on June 10 2022.
Image: Supplied: Tshwane Emergency Services

A total of 8,547 people aged 21 to 34 died on the country’s roads in three years.

The grim death toll, covering the years 2019 to 2021, has emerged in statistics collated by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC).

It said the worst affected age category was the 30 to 34 group, with 3,661 killed.

Gauteng had the highest number of road fatalities, with 1,380 deaths out of the 8,547 .

RTMC CEO Makhosini Msibi said SA faced a crisis on its roads and many of the victims were in an economically active age group needed for the development of the country. 

“It is saddening to read in road crash investigation reports that in most cases people die on the roads because of failure to use safety belts. In many instances it has been found safety belts have been cut off or tied under the seats of vehicles and thus could not be used to save lives,” Msibi said.

RTMC spokesperson Simon Zwane said the statistics served as a clarion call to young people to prioritise road safety as they engaged in Youth Month festivities in June.

Zwane said factors contributing to the high number of road fatalities among the youth included persistent risk-taking behaviour, such as:

  • reluctance to use safety belts;
  • driving at speeds that were too high for circumstances; and
  • driving under the influence of alcohol.

“The provinces with the highest number of youth road fatalities are Gauteng with 1,380 deaths, followed by KwaZulu-Natal with 1,235 fatalities, Eastern Cape with 1,201 and Limpopo with 1,127,” he said.

Zwane said these four provinces accounted for 57.8% of fatalities among the youth.

“Mpumalanga accounted for 968 fatalities among the youth, followed by Western Cape with 932, Free State 830, North West 640, and Northern Cape with 234 deaths.”

The RTMC appealed for young people to be conscious about road safety.

“It has been estimated that fatal crashes cost the economy R188.31bn last year based on the 10,611 fatal crashes recorded in the period with the loss of 12,545 lives,” said Zwane.

Msibi called on road users, road safety advocates and law enforcement officials to work together to reduce the numbers of deaths of young people on the roads.

“The RTMC supports World Health Organisation recommendations that traffic-calming measures should be constructed in areas with high pedestrian traffic to reduce vehicle speeds and save lives,” said Zwane.


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