Home FleetWatch 2019 SARF calls for national effort to address road crash crisis

SARF calls for national effort to address road crash crisis

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Saied Solomons, president of the South African Road Federation: “In South Africa, the cost of crashes amounts to 3.5% of GDP whereas in the United Kingdom, road crashes make up 1.7% of GDP and in the United States 1.8%.”
Saied Solomons, president of the South African Road Federation: “In South Africa, the cost of crashes amounts to 3.5% of GDP whereas in the United Kingdom, road crashes make up 1.7% of GDP and in the United States 1.8%.”

President of the South African Road Federation (SARF), Saied Solomons, has called for a nation-building programme that underscores road behaviour and which is coordinated to reach into the heart of every enforcement area across South Africa.

Speaking at SARF’s recent Transport Month event held in Pretoria, Solomons said all road stakeholders need to collaborate and accountability needs to be upheld at every level – from road users to officials and right through the reporting lines in road and traffic authorities.

The South African Road Federation is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the promotion of the road sector in South Africa. It focuses on road funding and road safety as well as training and capacity development to benefit all road stakeholders.  

“Statistics are not lacking when it comes to the carnage on our roads. The figures translate to over 30 jumbo jet crashes across our country every year. We have initiatives that run at national, regional and local government level to address the scourge of road crashes. However, they are not sufficiently integrated and we are not moving closer to reaching any of our road safety targets, many of which are aligned to international targets as set out in the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Solomons.

Statistics are not lacking when it comes to the carnage on our roads. Saied Solomons of the SARF reckons the figures translate to over 30 jumbo jet crashes across our country every year. In this crash involving a truck, a bakkie and a car, six men were killed and five others injured. It is just one of the many crashes that result in deaths on our roads every day.
Statistics are not lacking when it comes to the carnage on our roads. Saied Solomons of the SARF reckons the figures translate to over 30 jumbo jet crashes across our country every year. In this crash involving a truck, a bakkie and a car, six men were killed and five others injured. It is just one of the many crashes that result in deaths on our roads every day.

As for the National Road Safety Strategy launched in 2017, he said it remains a document that pays lip service to changing the behaviour and attitude of road users by 2030. “Nearly four years into this plan, lawlessness rather than the law still rules our roads. It is not guiding or driving implementation of the strategy across the road system.”

Solomons believes that pockets of excellent work are taking place around road safety but says organisations and authorities are working in silos which diminishes the impact of their programmes.  

“In 21st Century South Africa, technology can be far better used to help plan, implement, manage and monitor road safety efforts at local, regional and national levels.

Pointing at the Road Accident Fund, he said it remains largely a reactive mechanism funded by road users at the fuel tanks and then handed out after the carnage. “This levy should rather be proactively promoting and deepening enforcement to influence driver behaviour.” 

“Driver behaviour must be addressed through positive incentives for drivers as opposed to only penalties while officials need to be properly rewarded for their hard work in enforcing the law on our roads.”

Editor’s Note: While on the point of rewarding officials for their hard work “in enforcing the law on our roads,” one thing missing from Solomon’s speech is any mention of eliminating bribery. A concerted effort needs to be embarked on to ‘kill’ this despicable practice. Yes, it is true that the person paying a bribe is as guilty as the person receiving the bribe. However, when threats are made to impound a truck – often for ridiculous reasons – if a bribe is not paid, it is difficult for the owner of the truck not to hand over the cash. A lot of goods are delivered on a Just-in-Time basis where the customer cannot afford to entertain delays. He needs the goods delivered on time. So it’s pay or stand to lose a customer. This has to stop. All bribery on our roads has to stop. It is doing to road safety what State Capture has done to South Africa – Patrick O’Leary.

Continuing, Solomons says that according to the World Health Organisation, road traffic injuries are estimated to be the eighth leading cause of death globally. “The issue is not unique to South Africa but our statistics are. In South Africa, the cost of crashes amounts to 3.5% of GDP whereas in the United Kingdom, road crashes make up 1.7% of GDP and in the United States 1.8%.”

The SA Road Federation is part of the Global Road Safety Partnership which has highlighted four key road safety initiatives that developing countries should concentrate on, namely drink driving, speed, seat belts and child restraints

“If we could address these four issues across all three tiers of government agencies dealing with law enforcement on our roads, we will be taking a big step forward in reducing fatalities.”

The Global Road Safety Partnership has shown that a 5% reduction in speed reduces crashes by 30% and emphasises that setting and enforcing speed limits is one of the most effective measures in reducing road crashes. It reports that drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of between 0.02 and 0.05 grams/decilitre have at least a three times greater risk of dying in a crash. It also reveals that wearing a seatbelt reduces the risk of a fatality among drivers and front-seat occupants by 45-50% while use of correctly fitted child restraints appropriate for a child’s size and weight significantly reduces death or injury. 

“As part of this Partnership, we advocate widespread, consistent and highly visible law enforcement to send a clear message to drivers that speeding will not be tolerated. Similarly, we advocate widespread random breath testing as frequently as possible and especially around bars and restaurants. 

“Effective enforcement of seat belt laws must take place and correctly fitted and appropriate child restraints in vehicles are a non-negotiable. Those who are non-compliant must be penalised,” he urged.

In terms of road deaths, 38% of fatalities on our roads are pedestrians. Saied Solomons of the SARF says that to reduce pedestrian fatalities, “we need to address driver behaviour, educate pedestrians and also make sure there are ample pedestrian walking areas, including bridges, for people to move more easily, quickly and safely.” Note the pedestrian bridge in the back ground of this picture. Many pedestrians do not bother to use them when they are provided at great costs.  Thus Solomons call to educate pedestrians.
In terms of road deaths, 38% of fatalities on our roads are pedestrians. Saied Solomons of the SARF says that to reduce pedestrian fatalities, “we need to address driver behaviour, educate pedestrians and also make sure there are ample pedestrian walking areas, including bridges, for people to move more easily, quickly and safely.” Note the pedestrian bridge in the back ground of this picture. Many pedestrians do not bother to use them when they are provided at great costs. Thus Solomons call to educate pedestrians.

Solomons added that 38% of fatalities on our roads are pedestrians, who are vulnerable road users. “To reduce pedestrian fatalities, we need to address driver behaviour, educate pedestrians and also make sure there are ample pedestrian walking areas, including bridges for people to move more easily, quickly and safely.”

MEC for Roads and Transport in Gauteng, Jacob Mamabolo, delivered the keynote address at the event when he unpacked the role of transport in Gauteng’s economy. Mamabolo called on the SARF to be the voice of roads in the country, a challenge which Solomons welcomed. 

“Our work focuses on training and capacity development of road sector stakeholders, promoting road safety and ensuring our roads are adequately and fairly funded. I have no doubt that in the coming year, the SA Road Federation will rise to the challenge that the Premiere has charged us with. This has, however, been a sombre end to 2019’s Transport Month,” concluded Solomons. 

The South African Road Federation is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the promotion of the road sector in South Africa. It focuses on road funding and road safety as well as training and capacity development to benefit all road stakeholders.

1 COMMENT

  1. I would like for Mr Solomons to contact me as I am in Insurance ( 41 years experience) and can give some good pointers.
    However, for now, the RTIA got it wrong when they decided on the allocation of the AARTO points, giving 5 points for drunk driving and 1 to cell phone usage (should have carried the same if not more than Drunk driving). It is my opinion that What’s App/texting is the cause of most road accidents and deaths in RSA, even in the case of most of the 38 % Pedestrian cases. The reason why I am saying that, is that if motorists get off the phone and look into the road, they will in 80 % of the cases, see the pedestrian in time and avoid hitting them. We see claim forms on a daily basis and the 2nd most accidents are caused in Intersections. Thirdly, I do agree with speeding and that does not refer to the 120 km/h speeding on national roads, but I am on the road the whole day in normal suburbs and when the road sign says 40 Km/H ( for a reason) , people blow their hooter at me for driving at 40 Km/h, same at 60 km/h etc- my deduction is that only 2 % of all road users, are actually driving at the prescribed speed limit and as said, specially in suburbs. 4th cause, is Impatience and the lack of respect for the Law, Rules and other people lives as nobody stops at a red robot or stop streets anymore and here I am talking not just about Taxis, but all private road users- this is shocking and I always ask myself- what will these hooligans do if someone else skips a robot and kill one of his/her loved ones. I find nowadays that women are included in these factors mentioned, being equally guilty and not just young women, but older women and men too.

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