from DION HENRICK in Cape Town
Western Cape Bureau
CAPE TOWN, (CAJ News) – AN executive has shone a spotlight on the critical need for strategic infrastructure development to combat the carnage on South African roads.
The deaths peak at the festive season and the high number of casualties and injuries are dampening the country’s holiday cheer.
In the six week-period during the 2022/23 festive season alone, a staggering average of 40 people lost their lives every day on South Africa’s roads, of whom 41 percent were pedestrians – nearly double the global average.
South Africa is home to the tenth-largest road network in the world, which stretches approximately 750 000 kilometres.
“Given the extensive reach of this network, ensuring road safety remains a significant challenge,” Roelof van den Berg, Chief Executive Officer of Gap Infrastructure Corporation (GIC), said.
He said while an overwhelming majority of accidents remain the result of human error, the design and construction of roads were also key to improving road safety and eliminating all traffic fatalities.
According to the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), jaywalking remains the single greatest contributory factor in accidents involving pedestrians, accounting for around one in three of all road-related fatalities.
Van den Berg said to address the critical issue of pedestrian deaths, infrastructure developers must incorporate formal footpaths and pedestrian crossings into designs.
Another major contributor to accidents in South Africa is speeding.
Van den Berg said through meticulous planning and best design practices, professional infrastructure developers such as GIC can reduce risky behaviour and encourage sensible driving with speed-calming measures.
Through employing advanced engineering techniques and materials, developers can further help to manage dangers such as wet or slippery road surfaces, which remain the greatest environmental risk to local road users.
Among the other top 10 contributing factors to road fatalities in South Africa are head-on collisions, poor road visibility, and substandard road surfaces.
However, the risk of accidents diminishes significantly where infrastructure developers work to manage roadside hazards like trees or fixed objects, physically separate opposing traffic, and promote adequate visibility for all motorists and road users.
Ultimately, a multi-faceted approach is imperative to curbing persistently high road fatality rates, van den Berg said.
“Through the proactive efforts of infrastructure developers in collaboration with public partners, we can realise the dream of a zero road-fatality future, ensuring the safety and well-being of all road-users.”
– CAJ News