ROAD DEATHS LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH AMONGST YOUNG PEOPLE, ALCOHOL ABUSE A MAJOR FACTOR

SPEECH BY DONALD GRANT, Minister of Transport and Pulic Works Western Cape, at the Safe Roads 4 Youth South Africa-Youth Day on the 16 June 2014 at the Sports and Recreation Centre in Belhar, Cape Town.

Good morning ladies and gentlemen, road safety partners, en die veilige gemeenskap van Belhar. It is my honour to be here today to celebrate Youth Day 2014; a day which has come to highlight the role that young people have played, and will play in building this great country of ours. To ensure that young people are able to reach their full potential and help to take this country forward, we must work together to rid our society of social ills, which far too many young people fall victim to daily. Notable of those ills are drug and alcohol abuse, the latter being what I would like to speak about today.

South Africa has one of the highest per capita alcohol consumption rates in the world, with over 30% of the population said to be struggling with an alcohol problem or on the verge of having one. Alcohol has managed to creep into many aspects of ordinary South African life, and very often with the most disastrous of outcomes. Some of the most devastating results of excessive alcohol consumption can be found on our roads, which have become a daily scene of horror and death. You need only look at the country’s road crash statistics, of which alcohol is a leading cause, for an idea of the impact that alcohol abuse has on all South Africans. Even if you do not drive under the influence of alcohol, the chances that you are sharing the road with someone who is drunk are extremely high.
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These are the realities that we experience on our roads, with young people amongst the most affected. Road crashes now account for millions of deaths around the world annually, with the World Health Organization identifying road deaths as the leading cause of death for young people aged 15 to 29 years of age; these are disturbing statistics, and the focus of a large part of the work that the
Western Cape Government does, through our Safely Home programme in the Department of Transport and Public Works, to make our roads safer for all those that use it.

The Horrific Facts about the effects of alcohol on road safety:

· Although the frequency of drinking and driving varies between countries, it is very high in South Africa and almost universally accepted to being a major risk factor for road crashes.

· Studies in low-income countries have shown alcohol to be present in between 33% and 69% of all fatally injured drivers.

· Drivers who have been drinking are at a higher risk of being involved in crashes than those that have no alcohol in their system, with the risk increasing rapidly with increasing blood alcohol content.

· Alcohol impaired drivers are 17 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than unimpaired drivers.

· More disturbing is that inexperienced young drivers driving over the limit are 2.5 times more likely to be involved in a crash than more experienced drivers.

Alcohol consumption on our roads remains the focus of our Traffic Law enforcement authorities, who just this past weekend alone, stopped 1896 vehicles, screening 682 drivers and affecting 10 arrests for driving under the influence. We have been conducting these weekend alcohol blitzes since 2010, and believe that these efforts have contributed greatly to the close to 30% reduction in road deaths that we have achieved in this province.

All road safety experts agree that in order to effectively tackle drink driving that leads to death on our roads, we must:

· Have appropriate blood alcohol limits that are effectively enforced so as to deter would be offenders.

· Heighten awareness to the dangers of drinking and driving, and the increased chances of death on our roads.

We know that the battle on our roads can only be won through partnerships by government with groups such as the Global Road Safety Partnership, Safe Roads 4 Youth, ChildSafe, and all other groupings that share the same values and levels of commitment to reducing the carnage on our roads. Winning this battle, in ways that countries leading in road safety, like Australia, have been able to, will be the legacy that we will leave for generations to come. The burden that road crashes place on state resources, as well as the human costs, are astronomical. We must prioritize a drastic behavioural change amongst road users, and not allow this situation to continue unabated. Let’s make our roads Better Together, and ensure that we all get Safely Home. Laat ons ons paie Beter Tesame maak, en verseker dat ons almal Veilig Tuis toe.

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It cannot be business as usual with 1 376 road deaths over the festive season

Media Release from Global Road Safety Partnership South Africa (GRSP ZA)

The recently released road traffic crash statistics clearly indicate that more still needs to be done in order to curb the carnage on our roads. Admittedly, campaigns and programmes have been put in place by various sectors including; national and provincial government, business and NGOs. However, the figure of 1 376 fatalities as released by Minister Dipuo Peters on 9th January 2014 indicates that the number of road crashes is escalating. For instance, 937, 1 050, 1 358, 1 232 and 1 279 lives were lost in December 2009, December 2010, December 2011 and December 2012 respectively. Annually, close to 14 000 deaths are recorded each year and thousands more are injured as a result of road traffic crashes in South Africa.

However, far from losing hope, these figures should spur us all to double our efforts. The danger is that we seem to be getting inured to the carnage that is occurring on our roads and we continue to act as if everything is normal. It is not. As highlighted by Prof Sebastian van As, GRSP ZA Chairperson, “we need to highlight that sadly we (South Africa) are world champions when it comes to road deaths”.

South Africans from all spheres need to fight this scourge with all possible resources available. This is a fight that no single sector can win alone. A model that GRSP ZA strongly believes in is that of partnership to fight this scourge. As highlighted by Patrick Muchaka (GRSP ZA Programme Manager), “GRSP ZA’s principal objective is to facilitate initiatives aimed at the sustainable reduction of road crashes and fatalities, by bringing together government and governmental agencies, the private sector and civil society organisations”.

GRSP ZA would therefore like to see the strengthening of existing partnerships as well as forging of new partnerships in the fight against the trauma caused by road traffic crashes. We strongly believe that this is a model that will help us to bring a sustainable reduction in road deaths so that when the next round of statistics are released they will not make as grim reading as those released by Minister Peters at the beginning of January 2014.

About GRSP ZA
GRSP ZA acknowledges the link with the GRSP International, its objectives, its management structures and the intended role of the Advisor. GRSP ZA has been in existence since 2004 and formally registered as a Section 21 company in 2007. GRSP ZA operates with a functional and expert board, nominated and formalised by its members. GRSP ZA’s vision is a South Africa free of road crash death and injury.

For more information visit http://www.grsp.org.za or contact:
Telephone: +27 (0) 21 829 6162 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting +27 (0) 21 829 6162 FREE  end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Email: raushana.arnold@grsp.org.za

The largest research-action project about drink driving amongst youth, SAFE ROADS 4 YOUTH, reveals valuable insights in South Africa

SFR4Y

Safe Roads 4 Youth is “the first scientific project that studies simultaneously the impact of community-based interventions on youth and drink driving in three different countries (Argentina, South Africa, Vietnam) and very different cultural environments,” highlights Dr Jean-Pascal Assailly, senior researcher at the IFSTTAR (French Institute of Science and Technology for Transport, Spatial Planning, Development and Networks) and scientific adviser of the project.

The Safe Roads 4 Youth (SR4Y) project has carried out a survey involving more than 11,000 young people since the beginning of 2012. It offers in-depth insights into the behaviour and attitudes of young people aged 15-25 in Argentina, South Africa and Vietnam, emerging countries where access to motorisation is rapidly growing. The harmful use of alcohol is a key determinant for traffic accidents, notably for the young people and especially when combined with other risk factors such as speeding, reckless driving, etc. The survey provides clear evidence that incidences of drinking and driving by young people in South Africa are worryingly high, and gives insights for community interventions.
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