South Africa is losing young, economically active people to road crashes: Chikunga

Almost 87% of road fatalities in South Africa can be attributed to driver behaviour, says transport minister Sindisiwe Chikunga. Stock photo.
Almost 87% of road fatalities in South Africa can be attributed to driver behaviour, says transport minister Sindisiwe Chikunga. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF

Economically active people between the ages of 25 and 39 constitute the highest number of road users who die while driving in South Africa, though pedestrian fatalities are the highest segment of accident victims.

Transport minister Sindisiwe Chikunga on Wednesday addressed a dialogue on the state of road safety in South Africa as part of a three-day visit to the country by UN special envoy for road safety Jean Todt. 

“Our statistics indicate that up to 87% of road fatalities can be attributed to road user behaviour. Research has shown our employed youth are the ones who carry the heaviest burden of road crashes, injuries and fatalities,” Chikunga said. 

“We acknowledge road user behaviour is central to making our roads safer. We must continue to strive to increase respect for human life and treat the road carnage with the seriousness it deserves.”

A recent World Health Organisation report highlighted that Africa remains the region most affected by road crashes. African roads have a mortality rate of 19/100,000 people, while in Europe it is at seven deaths/100,000 people. In South Africa there are 25 deaths per 100,000 people.

The Road Accident Fund (RAF) said in a report released last month fatal crashes appear to be decreasing by 1% to 2% per annum and are now about 10,500 a year. The RAF said 43% of road user fatalities in South Africa are pedestrians while motorists in the 25 to 39 year age bracket account for 41.4% of road fatalities.

Chikunga said many crashes are not on “bad” roads. Rather, they are “because people just decide to drive anyhow”.

“The top 20 hazardous roads in South Africa are national roads. The N1, the N3, the R61, the Moloto Road. If you look at those roads all of them are in a good state.”

Last month, Stats SA said an analysis showed the primary causes of crashes were human factors such as speeding, reckless driving, distracted driving (often due to smartphone usage) and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, as well as vehicle defects. Fatigue and lack of sleep also impaired driver judgment and reaction times, increasing the likelihood of accidents.

Chikunga said there are many more motorists on the roads since the advent of democracy as more people obtained bank loans. From 1994 to 1995 the number of vehicles increased by 1-million from 5.5-million to 6.5-million.

“From 1994 to 2022 we moved from 5.5-million to almost 13-million vehicle population.

“Such an increase has presented a plethora of road safety-related challenges, from human factors, environmental factors, engineering and technical factors and law enforcement to education and awareness factors.”



Would you like to comment on this article?
Register (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.