News / Africa

South Africa Struggles to Reduce Road Fatalities

South Africa Struggles to Reduce Road Fatalitiesi
X
January 29, 2013 1:44 PM
After yet another deadly holiday season on South Africa’s roads, the government is calling on citizens to do more to prevent accidents - especially as more than half the accidents were linked to alcohol use. The country ranks among the worst in the world in highway safety, with 40 people dying every day in road accidents. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from Johannesburg.
South Africa Struggles to Reduce Road Fatalities
After yet another deadly holiday season on South Africa’s roads, the government is calling on citizens to do more to prevent accidents - especially as more than half the accidents were linked to alcohol use.  The country ranks among the worst in the world in highway safety, with 40 people dying every day in road accidents.

Driving while intoxicated

It's an ordinary Friday night in Soweto, a township in the south of Johannesburg. The officers in charge of taking blood samples to measure alcohol levels can barely keep up with the influx of seemingly intoxicated people arriving at the station.  At a nearby roadblock, 15 people were arrested in less than two hours for driving under the influence.

The national Road Traffic Management Corporation says there were 1,279 road deaths between December 1 and January 1 - citing drunk driving as the main cause.  And it says 40 percent of the fatalities involved pedestrians who were walking on the road while drunk.

Every year, 14 000 people die on the road in South Africa.  The World Health Organization says the country ranks among the world's worst in road safety.

Gary Ronald, of the Automobile Association of South Africa, says the government must do a better job to educate the public.

"More information, more education, not just at schools. It has to be in the general public space. And we certainly don't get that. I would for one would really like to see a road safety program education, information, on all channels of media, every single day. That has not happened. Not for the last 20 years it has not happened," he said.

Unsafe driving conditions

Alcohol is not the only threat on the roads here.

On one main road linking a township to the city center, hundreds of people cycle to work every day, weaving between the cars.  As more and more South Africans become affluent enough to drive their own cars, there is a difficult co-existence between cyclists and autos on clogged roads.  

The South African government is not ignoring the problems.  In 2011, it launched a national campaign to cut the number of road fatalities in half by 2020.  

Enforcement, alleged corruption

Minister of Transport Ben Martins says one element in the campaign is to tackle police corruption, which allows unsafe and unlicensed drivers and their cars to stay on the road.  Motorists here can often walk away free from a traffic offense by paying bribes.

"There are certain corrupt officials who would engage in the practice of  issuing or selling illegal licenses," Martins said. "So we are cracking down on that."

Martins says other problems include speeding, dangerous driving practices, failure to wear seatbelts and unroadworthy vehicles.

You May Like

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Video US Landmark Pushes Endangered Species

People gathered in streets, on rooftops in Manhattan to see image highlights that covered 33 floors of Empire State Building More

World’s Widest Suspension Bridge Being Built Over Bosphorus

Once built, Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge will span 2 kilometers with about 1.5 kilometers over water, and will be longest suspension bridge in world carrying rail system More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs