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2014-01-03 07:19

ACTION NEEDED: The death toll for December 2013 is at its highest yet with a figure of 1138 fatalities. Image: SAPA

The daily death toll for December 2013 is the highest yet, according to driving skills specialist, Rob Handfield-Jones, who has monitored road death tolls since 2007.

Handfield-Jones, managing director of Driving.co.za, said: "1184 deaths took place over December, in other words 39.5 deaths per day. This exceeds the record figure of 38 per day for the 2012 festive season.

"The Christmas period for 2013/2014 will end on 13 January, by which time I expect the death toll to be approximately 1 736 deaths based on past and current trends."


He said this figure would rise by the time the 30-day waiting period for traffic fatalities had elapsed, meaning that December 2013 could become the first festive season in which more than "2000 traffic fatalities" occurred.

Handfield-Jones said the main reason for the ever-increasing festive death toll was the failure of government to provide road safety leadership. "People only drive as badly as their governments allow them to," he commented.

"In countries like the US and United Kingdom, it is socially unacceptable to be a bad driver; government road safety systems in those countries are aimed at improving competence."

He said it was the opposite in South Africa.

 "The RTMC showed a brief flash of intent while Gilberto Martins was Acting CEO, but has since gone silent. Licensing is a corrupt mess with probably half of all licences being issued fraudulently.

"This creates a culture of bribery among drivers who forget that when it comes to driving, a fake licence acquired by bribery can be deadly," he added.

Asked what needed to be done, he replied the top three government priorities should be to rectify the poor gathering of statistical road safety data, overhaul the licensing system and prioritise the enforcement of moving violations.

"As long as the key priority of law enforcers is revenue generation rather than safety, South Africa's road deaths will continue to mount," he concluded.
Read more on:    rtmc  |  south africa  |  crashes  |  road deaths

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