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And so the killing continues …

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This country’s claims to fame are somewhat alarming. We seem to have mastered the art of destroying our country and its people …

I recently received a somewhat fascinating e-mail from New Zealand. It came from John de Pont, president of the International Forum for Road Transport Technology. He was commenting on the road fatalities in that country over the 2014 festive season.

A total of 17 people were killed in that country over the Christmas season – and he was aghast, because it was more than double that of the previous year (when seven people died). “Something is going badly wrong with road safety,” he reported.

The e-mail really got me thinking. Compare these figures to South Africa. A total of 1 368 people were killed here over the same period last year. I think we should be aghast too, but I’m not seeing too many aghast people running around and fixing this sorry situation.

I know what you’re thinking: the population of New Zealand – at 4,5 million – is far lower. Spot on right. We have 53 million people living here. So, multiply the New Zealand death toll by 11,7 … and we still shouldn’t be killing more than 199 people. Our situation is totally unacceptable!

And so the killing continues …Hot on the heels of the e-mail from New Zealand came another one from the United Kingdom, which also got me thinking. The United Kingdom is home to around 64 million people. The Department of Transport over there recently released its annual road safety statistics … and there were 1 711 deaths in the year ending September 2014, a four percent increase compared with the previous year.

The e-mail came from the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), which described the figures as “hugely disappointing”. The charity blames many years of government cutbacks and the resulting drop in visible policing for the increase in figures.

“It is disappointing that, after many years of solid falls in the numbers of people killed and injured on our roads, the government has taken its eye off the ball. These figures reflect our view that cuts in visible policing and road safety spending has had an impact, with a third successive quarter of increases. While these new figures can in no way be regarded as a trend, they are a big concern,” noted Neil Greig, IAM director of policy and research.

“Recent transport ministers have been lucky. The recession had slowed traffic growth. New car technology has delivered safer roads year on year, and most accident black spots have now been engineered out of existence,” he added.

Neil stressed that a change in driver attitude had to happen. “This is an opportunity for us to prove the key underlying part that driver skills and behaviour play in road safety. Most crashes are caused by human error, and technology can only deliver so much. If we don’t change policy we will still be killing 1 000 people a year in 2030 – that is unacceptable. Driver behaviour, skills and training will be the key focus for our future research and policy work.”

It was the annual figure of 1 000 that really hit home. We kill more than 1 000 a month. And that’s a slow month …


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