International road safety lessons

Road safety is a global priority and South Africa is playing a leadership role in the international efforts to reduce deaths and minimise the impact of injuries resulting from accidents.

The United Nations has launched a Decade of Action for Road Safety in 2011 to address the concern that nearly 1.3 million people are killed on the world’s roads every year – and a further 50 million are disabled for life or severely injured.


A year ago, the Minister of Transport, Ms Dipuo Peters, attended a high-level conference in Brazil where countries provided mid-term feedback on the implementation of the Global Action Plan. This was an opportunity to measure South Africa’s success against international standards but also to learn from best practices adopted by other countries.

On her return Minister Peters said South Africa is making remarkable strides in the implementation of safety programmes – but there are also key lessons to be learned from the global experience:

  1. Road safety management must be reconfigured to effectively address the key challenges in the country.
  2. The mind-set of traffic policing must be shifted towards education and information for road users about the objectives behind traffic regulations.
  3. The successful implementation of road safety policies is dependent on productive partnerships between government, the corporate sector, civic society and communities.
  4. The youth must be increasingly mobilised to promote road safety policies and mobilise society.
  5. Road safety education aimed at children must be stepped up and supported by active measures to promote safety devices such as child restraints in vehicles.
  6. The “Safe Systems Approach” should be implemented for all future engineering and construction projects. This approach recognises the need to introduce engineering solutions to prevent deaths and reduce injuries in crashes caused by human errors.
  7. Road safety management should be professionalised through academic development programmes and twinning partnerships.
  8. There must be active participation from the business sector, civic society and NGOs to introduce road safety programmes and mobilise resources to extend education, training and awareness among all communities.