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Thu Oct 02 18:31:39 SAST 2014

SA pays high price for road accident carnage

POPPY LOUW and TJ STRYDOM | 07 January, 2013 00:14
TTP6TOLL07-06-01-2013-16-01-04-576-.jpg
Road-users returning home through the Pumulani Toll Plaza in Pretoria after the December break Picture: LAUREN MULLIGAN

Fatigue, alcohol consumption and breaking the rules of the road have been attributed to most accidents during the festive season - accidents which cost the country's economy billions every year.

An estimated 1279 people died on South African roads between December 1 2012 and January 1 2013.

Road Traffic Management Corporation spokesman Ashref Ismail said driver attitude was to blame for the 1067 fatal crashes.

"Most drivers forget that they are not the only ones using the roads during this time of the year."

During the year between 35 and 38 people are killed on South African roads daily. That number increases to between 40 and 42 during the festive season.

Ismail says 95% of accidents in this period are caused by drivers who misjudge distances and speeds of other cars as well as ignoring road signs, putting many lives in danger.

The carnage on South Africa's roads comes with a massive price tag, one which runs to more than R150-billion.

On average each of the fatal incidents in December cost R1.33-million, says AA spokesman Gary Ronald.

"And this only gives you half of the picture. It does not include the damage to vehicles, the hospital element and future treatment for injuries," said Ronald.

The latest comprehensive annual number the AA has available is a cost of R157.7-billion from March 2010 to April 2011.

This includes the direct costs of emergency services, insurance and Road Accident Fund pay-outs, as well as estimates of the loss of earnings when breadwinners die.

The R157.7-billion is larger than the market value of Absa bank, for example.

Data collected by the corporation as part of the National Rolling Enforcement Plan last year announced the country's most dangerous roads.

Although results showed more people were likely to be killed on the N2 between East London, Mthatha and Kokstad - the most dangerous road during the year - no fatalities were recorded on this route during the festive season.

Instead, the N3 between Warden and Harrismith on the border of the Free State has become the festive season's most dangerous road in the country.

Ismail said alternative modes of transport should be considered during this time of the year.

"Railway transport suppliers need to make trains more attractive for travellers and holidaymakers because it a safer choice for travel," he said.

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Thu Oct 02 18:31:39 SAST 2014 ::