SA roads 'still not safe enough'
Johannesburg - South Africa's roads were still not safe enough, despite a halving of festive season road fatalities, the Johannesburg Attorneys' Association said on Monday.
The death toll was still close to double that of ten years ago,
Logic dictated that fewer fatalities would be reported during a period where a there was a marked decline in seasonal and business travel, he said.
"Inspections and speed traps do not solve the crumbling infrastructure and pothole ridden roads"
They also did not solve the ongoing failure of the Road Accident Fund to appropriately serve injured people, or the reliance on private services to provide emergency medical care at accident scenes.
"When one considers the overall picture, it is dire. 40 die on roads every day De Broglio said an estimated 40 people died and 100 were seriously injured on the country's roads every day.
Of the injured, 20 were permanently disabled and 7 000 maimed or scarred for life every year. Every serious injury of death could negatively affect at least four other people, he said. "Consider the average size of a family and therein lies the true human cost; whether it leaves a family emotionally traumatised or potentially sans a breadwinner.
" He put the economic cost to the country at over R30bn a year. "It serves no purpose upgrading stadiums and airports while the basic infrastructure assets of our country lie crumbling and the human cost escalates.
"We have corruption leading to people who cannot drive acquiring licences and roadblocks targeting well-maintained vehicles and well-heeled drivers when accident hotspots never seem to be targeted.
2010 "This year, and in 2010, the eyes of the world will be on South Africa. How exactly are we equipped to handle an influx of tourists on our roads, whether driving or using public transport, when the risks on our roads are so high?" he asked.
Regarding Road Accident Fund payments, De Broglio noted that limitations on claims, given exchange rates, probably allow foreign accident victims to afford "little more than shoelaces". "Government investment in road infrastructure right now makes sense," he said.
"A massive public works programme will not only serve to soften the current wave of unemployment due to the economic downturn, but save lives in the long run."
The Johannesburg Attorneys' Association has urged the government to take notice of the exponential cost of road accidents, infrastructure and to review Road Accident Fund legislation.
It said the Law Society of South Africa would soon bring a constitutional challenge against recently enacted regulations in this regard.