The International Road Federation (IRF) officially recognised the road safety engineering efforts of the South African National Roads Agency SOC Limited (SANRAL) when it bestowed on the agency the 2020 IRF “Find a Way” Global Road Safety Award, during the closing ceremony of its Vision Zero for Africa Conference on Thursday.
During the 3-day virtual conference, several road safety specialists from around the globe had deliberated, collaborated and unpacked exactly what “Vision Zero” means for Africa’s road planners, designers & builders.
“This Award bears testament to our relentless efforts to reduce fatal and serious injury crashes not only on our national road network, but in the whole of South Africa and the Southern African Development Community. It is specifically gratifying given our road safety journey, which is by no means over, but such recognition confirms that we are on the right path. The onset of the United Nations 1st Decade of Action for Road Safety in 2011 provided the much-needed impetus to structure and focus our road safety efforts as the leading Roads Agency in South Africa,” said SANRAL CEO, Skhumbuzo Macozoma during his acceptance speech.
According to the IRF, the end of the first United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 marks the start of new forms of international collaboration to avert the continuing and growing epidemic of road traffic injuries, responsible for 1,350,000 fatalities per year. In February 2020, Ministers from over 100 countries reaffirmed the objective to halve road fatalities from 2020 to 2030, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. In August this year, the UN General Assembly reaffirmed this goal in a resolution which further calls on countries to “ensure the safety and protection of all road users through safer road infrastructure by taking into account the needs of motorized and non-motorized transport, especially on the highest-risk roads, through a combination of proper planning and safety assessment, including through identification of crash-prone areas, design, building and maintenance of roads, signal systems and other infrastructure”.
The key departure point of the conference, was the acknowledgement that no level of death or serious injury is acceptable, hence the “Vision Zero” principles, which take human fallibility and vulnerability into account, should be instrumental in guiding the design and management of road networks.
“We have embraced the Safe System approach and are acutely aware of the important role that all stakeholders play in providing a safe and forgiving road environment, one that caters for the needs of all road users, including our most vulnerable road users. SANRAL has cemented its commitment to Road Safety by making it one of the four key pillars of our organizations long-term strategy, HORIZON 2030. The other pillars are Roads, Mobility and Stakeholders.” continued Macozoma.
SANRAL is at the forefront of South Africa’s infrastructure development agenda, particularly as the country begins to rebuild the economy, against the backdrop of a pandemic that has wreaked havoc with lives and livelihoods.
“While the Coronavirus continues make its presence known, it seems that road crash fatalities are demanding as much attention and action from us as individuals, communities and indeed a nation. As we head into the holiday season which inevitably sees a spike in traffic volumes, let us as road users, be the footsoldiers that execute on government’s road safety commitments and let us show the world, that this award can pave the way for improved road user behaviour and saving lives,” concluded Macozoma.