Statistics are of course something we can’t do without – that said, some are so frightening that we could possibly wish they weren’t as indelibly imprinted on our brain, such is the case with road fatalities in South Africa.
The realities of what a WHO report shows should however be seen in the context of the season we are moving into - parties and the endless of repertoire of functions celebrating (or commiserating) the year’s results – which result in over indulgence in alcohol.
According to WHO (World Health Organization) South Africa has more drunk-driving related deaths than anywhere else in the world?
This is according to the latest Global Status report on Road Safety for 2015, whose report covers 180 countries across the globe, noting that total road traffic deaths amounted to 1.25 million per year, as at 2013.
The highest number of road traffic fatalities were recorded in low-income countries (24.1% of all deaths), the group said, and is the number one cause of death among people aged 15-29 years olds the world over.
Shockingly, you have a 26.6% chance of dying in a road accident in Africa, with the next most dangerous region being the Eastern Mediterranean, where you have 19.9% chance of being killed on the road, the WHO said.
South African roads
South Africa remains as one of the more dangerous countries for road safety, with Time Magazine ( August 2015) reporting the death rate of 31.9 / 100K second only to the Dominican Republic which scores a 41.7 / 100K
Trends in road deaths
Alarmingly, the WHO noted that South Africa has the highest rate of alcohol-related road deaths, where as much as 58% of deaths can be attributed to alcohol consumption.
Of 180 countries covered in the report, only 95 provide data on the proportion of deaths attributable to alcohol abuse.
These countries have proportions that range from less than 1% of deaths in Costa Rica and Oman, to the 58% ceiling in South Africa (excluding countries with small populations which distort the data).
While South Africa has national laws to combat drunk driving, the country only scores 4 out of 10 in its capacity to enforce them.
Speed limit enforcement scores 3 out of 10, and seat-belt laws score even worse in terms of enforcement: 2 out of 10.
The WHO estimates that 7.8% of South Africa’s GDP is lost due to crashes on the country’s roads.
Till next time - Drive Safe and remember - Don’t Drink and Drive, Rather reconsider.