South Africa’s Minister of Transport, Dipuo Peters, has spoken of the country’s ‘serious challenge’ with regard to road safety.

Delivering a keynote address at the National Road Safety Strategy CBO Engagement Summit, Peters highlighted South Africa’s high road death rate, which was 23.5 per 100,000 people in 2014, compared with a global average of 17.4 fatalities per 100,000 people.

Peters said:

“The importance of road safety to the economy and society at large provides a convincing case for decisive policies and strategies to address the problem.”

“People injured or killed on our roads are often breadwinners in their families and important contributors to the economy at large. Therefore it is not an exaggeration to say that road crashes deny our people to a right to pursue economic activities and denies their children the right to education.”

“An economic and financial analysis of road crashes points to the need to improve road safety in the country. This will enable South Africans to live long productive lives and fiscal resources can be freed to focus on the important business of socio-economic development. In the past, South Africa has experienced reduced road traffic fatalities, with the figures reducing fairly steadily from 15,419 in 2006 to 12,702 as of 2014.”

“Reductions in road deaths have however not decreased at the rate required for South Africa to realistically meet the international aspirational goals laid out by the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 (UNDA) to achieve 50% reduction by 2020.”

As a participant of the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 (UNDA), South Africa has endorsed the global undertaking to save up to 5 million lives, and contribute to preventing up to 50 million serious injuries by 2020.

Peters said South Africa needed to develop a national strategy to:

  • Reduce accidents, fatalities and injuries
  • Inculcate good road user behaviour
  • Encourage voluntary compliance
  • Reduce road accident costs

“Let us use this opportunity to develop a national strategy that will be appreciated by many future generations,” said Peters. “We have an opportunity to make a difference. Let us act together now. Let us take road safety as a social struggle that we must wage to protect the Constitutional “Right to Life” guided by the blueprint that will emerge out of these consultation sessions.”

Read the full keynote address.