Ndebele warns of high road accident fatality rate

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Queenstown - Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele has warned that road accidents could claim more lives than HIV and malaria put together by 2020.

"Unless we do something about it today, soon we will find that in 2020, roads will kill more people than those who die from HIV and Malaria put together," said the minister on Sunday.

He was speaking during the funeral of six passengers who died in a taxi accident on the N6 highway in Queenstown recently.

More than 16 000 people are killed yearly in road crashes in South Africa, costing the country more than R14 billion annually.

The minister said that while campaigns led by Arrive Alive were showing results, it was painful to see so many people dying on the country's roads.

"The primary contributory factors in fatal crashes or serious injuries include excessive speed, drinking and driving and the non-wearing of seatbelts. Motorcars, light delivery vehicles and minibuses are the top three vehicle types to be involved in a crash," he said.

Pedestrians account for 50 percent of the road crash fatalities in South Africa

Ndebele said his department would clamp down on those who break the law. "Obey the law or lose your license," he warned.

"Police must arrest all those who do not wear seatbelts, those who speed and those who drive drunk. The police must show no mercy. We are certain of this and we owe to the people we are burying today that their lives must spur us towards safer roads."

The minister said he was committed to implementing the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) throughout the country in 2010 as well as establishing a special unit to assist provinces and municipalities with law enforcement.

The department will also ensure that new card drivers' licenses are tamper proof and cannot be forged.

An initiative is to be launched whereby learners will be taught how to drive while still at school and tertiary institution. This will easily put some 300 000 properly licensed drivers on our roads annually, said Ndebele.