Plea for safer driving in residential areas as 995 children under 12 die in 2018

Transport minister also wants truckers and motorists protected on N3

09 June 2019 - 15:13 By timeslive
The high rate of children dying on SA roads sparks plea for improved driving in residential areas.
The high rate of children dying on SA roads sparks plea for improved driving in residential areas.
Image: Netcare 911

An unacceptably high number of children are dying on SA roads due to reckless drivers and the negligence of parents, says the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC).

An analysis of road fatalities statistics shows that a total of 995 children under the age of 12 died as a result of road crashes last year, the agency said in a statement on Sunday.

The majority - 600 - of those who died were boys. Girls accounted for 382 of the fatalities, with the gender of the remaining children unclear on the available data.

"Many of the children die as pedestrians, which indicates that parents are failing to exercise proper control over them and there is a high level of incidents of reckless and negligent driving in residential areas," said the RTMC.

The agency referenced a World Health Organisation (WHO) report in 2018 stating that the use of child restraints can reduce the risk of death by at least 60%. It commented: "SA has legislation requiring children to be put on child restraints, however, more needs to be done to enforce the law."

Meanwhile, transport minister Fikile Mbalula said on Sunday he supports stronger policing action and for law enforcement to be doubled along the N3 highway and connecting routes in the wake of continued unrest in KwaZulu-Natal's trucking industry.

"We cannot allow for any parts of the country to be declared a no-go zone," said Mbalula.

The Sunday Times reported on Sunday that motorists have been warned to stay off the N3 between Johannesburg and Durban after dark, as deadly attacks on foreign truck drivers surge.

Earlier in June, an inter-ministerial team helped devise a plan which included the establishment of a rapid-response team, the cessation of illegal employment of undocumented migrants, the implementation of skills development initiatives for local drivers, the creation of a database of unemployed drivers and a review of work permit legislation.

"Despite the intervention, violence continued to flare, threatening to render the N3 unusable, a situation that is clearly unacceptable," Mbalula said in a statement.

"There is to be no terror on our roads. Such activities do not only terrorise the freight sector but the general populace which uses our roads and is entitled to safe use, free of violence.

"The inter-departmental task team is making progress and should be given room to do its work. Violence and terror is not how we are going to solve this".