The scourge of car accidents and related fatalities have reached disturbing proportions and if not curbed it will place untold strain on South Africa, the Road Accident Fund (RAF) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Eugene Watson says.
Watson is quoted by the Africa News Agency as saying the death of bread winners, heads of families, and economically active youth at the threshold of their lives, as well as innocent young children and toddlers, weighs heavily on our country and sets society back. All of this also harms South Africa’s economy.
“To the millions of road users who remained alert while travelling, we thank you for heeding the RAF’s call to stay safe.” He said that drunken driving, speeding, unroadworthy vehicles, fatigue, over taking on barrier lines and failure to wear visible clothing at night were some of the main causes for road deaths.
Meanwhile Transport Minister Dipuo Peters announced a five percent increase in road deaths over the festive season.
Yet, Watson said the RAF, government’s consoling arm, has been hard at work during the holidays working with affected families and crash victims while providing all the necessary support. “To the families, friends and colleagues of the over 1,700 people who died this festive season, we offer our condolences… We cannot afford to tire in changing road behaviour and the RAF will be continuing in its efforts to ensure all road users heed the message. We thank all those road users who have done just that during the festive season and everyone to continue telling a good story about how they obey the rules of the road.”
He said that road safety remained a priority of RAF and that despite good intentions including that of government and other transport entities, the RAF’s claims expenditure still remained unacceptably high at over R32 billion per annum, where each rand paid is painful reminder of the extent to which lives are lost and people seriously injures on our roads.
The claims expenditure, coupled with liabilities of more than R150 billion, represented large sums of money our country could assign to valuable services and infrastructure if the war on road crashes is won, Watson added.