Justice Project South Africa wishes to express its sincere sympathies to all people affected by road crashes during the monitoring period of 1 December 2013 to 7 January 2014.

We note that the PRELIMINARY road fatalities figure during this period was originally announced as being 1376, was later adjusted to 1357 but in the official media release from the department of transport, it’s back to 1376. Whatever it is, it’s way too high and is indicative of the serious problems South Africa faces on our roads, which can be likened to war zones.

We share the concerns expressed by Rob Handfield-Jones with respect to the credibility of these figures since an increase in 8 days of 192 fatalities represents an average daily rate of 24 fatalities per day, compared to the daily average of 39.4 per day up to 30 December 2013.  This is particularly concerning in light of the fact that several multi-fatality serious crashes took place after the 30 December previous report from the RTMC and the latest figures just don’t appear to be plausible.

We wish to make it very clear are NOT in any way accusing Minister Peters of “lying” since she can only report on figures that are presented to her. There are fundamental flaws in the methodologies used to collate such statistical information and these need to be urgently addressed.  We should also be very careful in announcing total “reductions” in road fatalities during the “festive season”, especially in light of the consistent shortening of the monitoring period that has typified reporting over the past few years.

Dangerous driving behaviour remains the prevalent killer on South Africa’s roads and yet the enforcement of moving violations remains a poorly – almost non-existent – implemented practice amongst traffic authorities.  Whilst the contingent of approximately 18,000 traffic officers countrywide cannot be deemed as nearly enough to police almost 10 million motorists, the way in which they are deployed and utilised needs urgent review.  Deploying them to roadblocks where moving violations don’t take place and into bushes to take photographs of speeding motorists is illogical – to put it mildly.

On the positive side, we are heartened that the Minister of Transport has prioritised the formation of a Road Safety Advisory Council going forward and hold high hopes for positive actions for the dramatic reduction of road carnage through positive interventions.  There is much work ahead and only consistent and ongoing interventions, based on reliable information and best practices will achieve the goals of curbing South Africa’s unacceptably high road carnage.

Howard Dembovsky

National Chairman – Justice Project South Africa (NPC)

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