Infrastructure, awareness key to curbing fatalities on national roads

Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi believes more education and awareness is key to changing road-user behaviour and negative attitudes towards road safety.

Education and awareness campaigns play an important role in road safety but Transport Minister, Joe Maswanganyi, believes road safety should be every citizen’s responsibility.

Speaking at a panel discussion organised in partnership with radio station Power FM and other transport entities, minister Maswanganyi said statistics on the death toll on our roads during the most recent holiday season do not bode well for the country.

A panel of experts from the Department of Transport and civil society engaging on road safety at the at the Power FM road safety dialogue.

He said: “Because of that, we have taken a decision that road safety awareness programmes should not be seasonal.”

The minister added that as a participant of the United Nations’ Decade of Action, South Africa has endorsed the global undertaking to save up to five million lives and contribute to the prevention of up to 50-million serious injuries by 2020.

Investing in road infrastructure

Randall Cable, the engineering manager for operations at the South African National Roads Agency (SOC) Limited (SANRAL), said countries that invest more in their road infrastructure have reduced fatalities on their national roads.

“South Africa has a good road infrastructure, and through the National Road Safety Strategy, that is yet to be approved by Cabinet, the country will be able to pull its resources together in curbing carnage on its national roads,” said Cable. “As SANRAL, through our mandate of maintaining and managing the national road network, we have demonstrated that infrastructure reduces the risk of serious injury when an accident happens on our highways.”

Touching on pedestrian safety, Cable said that infrastructure such as sidewalks can drastically reduce fatalities on freeways, which make up to 40% of deaths on the road.

SANRAL has also introduced road safety audits, making it mandatory for road authorities to be conscious about road safety on national roads.

The National Road Safety Strategy embodies the principles of the Safe Systems approach and the five pillars of the global plan, which are a guiding framework to improve road safety.

In accordance with the Decade of Action, these pillars remain consistent in the National Road Safety Strategy, namely road safety management, safer roads and mobility, safer vehicles, safer road users and post-crash response.