More than half of all road traffic deaths occur among individuals between 15 and 55 years of age and 73% of those who lose their lives are males. This means that victims are in the prime of life and often breadwinner for their families. Their loss can push their families further into poverty.
According to a report compiled by the World Health Organisation (WHO), road traffic crashes kill 1.2 million people each year and injure millions more, particularly in low-income and middle-income countries. Every day just over 1 000 young people under the age of 25 years are killed in road traffic crashes around the world. Road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death globally among 15–19-year-olds, while for those in the 10–14-years and 20–24-years age brackets they are the second leading cause of death.
In South Africa, the scale of death and injury due to road crashes is disastrous, and the country has been ranked fourth worst in the world. It is estimated that about 12 000 people die every year on the roads – about 36 people die every day and 100 are seriously injured. 7 000 people are maimed or permanently disabled every year. The estimated cost of these casualties annually is around R38 billion.
Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi announced a 51% increase in the number of road fatalities over the Easter period this year. The road crash statistics released by the minister on 21 April say that the fatalities had increased to 235 compared to 187 last year (2016). Some of the deadliest crashes over the Easter weekend were recorded in Gauteng, the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.
The highest increases have been recorded in the Northern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, the Western Cape and the North West. Reasons for the fatalities include drivers and passengers not wearing seat belts, drinking and driving and overloading.
Transport department explain that passengers contributed to half of the road deaths. Below is the breakdown of stats per province: Free State: 27% decrease, Western Cape: 57% increase, Eastern Cape: 17% increase, North West: 50% increase, Northern Cape: 175% increase, Gauteng: 58% increase, KwaZulu-Natal: 111% increase, Mpumalanga: 33% increase and Limpopo: 30% increase. Although the increasing numbers of deaths due to crashes of young people, however there are various interventions around road safety in South Africa that have been implemented by both public and private sector to mitigate the epidemic.
Minimal road safety knowledge and best practices amongst youth which increases their vulnerability towards road accidents.
In 2010, during the 65th United Nations General Assembly, governments around the world took the historic decision to increase action to address the road safety crisis over the next ten years. They adopted a resolution announcing the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020.
Through the Decade, countries around the world have committed to a range of activities to make roads safer. These include developing and enforcing laws to limit speed, reduce drink-driving, and increase the use of seatbelts, child restraints, and motorcycle helmets. Actions will also be taken to improve emergency trauma care, upgrade road and vehicle safety standards, and promote road safety education. In order to prepare for the Decade, a Global Plan has been developed to provide an overall framework for activities.
In our efforts to create awareness of the road safety amongst the youth, Abuti Rams Consultancy (ARC) proposes a 4-month Youth and Road Safety Programme to address the minimal road safety knowledge and explore the best practices amongst youth which increases their vulnerability towards road fatalities but also expose them to the opportunities within the transport sector.
Principal to the implementation of this programme is the mass public awareness and participation within road safety and transport sector. This will be done in a form of capacity building workshops within 4 provinces in South African rural and township communities. The key objectives of the workshops are to:
- Increase awareness on road safety amongst the youth;
- Conscientise and expose out-of-school youth to employment opportunities within the Transport Sector; and
- Capacitate SMMEs with relevant skills within the Transport Sector to participate meaningfully in the local economic growth.