The more than 10,000 fatal car accidents on South Africa’s roads during 2022 cost the country’s economy in excess of R186 billion, translating to a cost of R7.8 million per crash, or 3.3% of the annual GDP.
Speaking on Cape Talk, Nivashni Nair, Sunday Times journalist, said she calculated this astounding figure by looking at numerous parameters affected by an accident past just the physical damage of the vehicle and/or its passengers.
This includes the loss of productivity of the passengers, cost of medical treatment, crash clean up, emergency medical services including the presence of the South African police, funeral costs, infrastructure damage, and long-term economic consequences of the loss of income, reduced productivity, and the impact on the victim’s family and dependents, she said.
These statistics, which reveal the far-reaching impacts of deteriorating road infrastructure, poor driver behaviour, and lackluster law enforcement, have never been released to the public by an official government agency and are in fact being ignored, said Nair, with little effort being made to decrease the number of fatal crashes in the country.
Police resources being spread too thin
The astounding frequency of deadly car accidents in South Africa doesn’t only have an adverse effect on the country’s fiscus, but also pulls vital police resources away from other areas that need attention.
The Road Traffic Inspectorate (RTI), which is responsible for active policing on the road, blamed its underperformance over the last year on its officers being pulled away from their normal duties to deal with crashes, by, for example, directing traffic and assisting with clean-up duties at the accident sites instead of patrolling their assigned areas and responding to emergencies.
In KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) alone, it is estimated that RTI traffic officers have spent more than 635 days in terms of hours on the road dealing with traffic management for fatal crashes, with the Gauteng transport department stating that its officials are in a similar situation.
These entities said that, of the over 10,000 fatal accidents recorded in 2022, a good 87% were attributed to road user behaviour.