The Automobile Association (AA) has said the high death toll on South Africa’s roads can be largely attributed to a lack of infrastructure and road maintenance.
“Poor infrastructure equals poor road safety,” said the AA.
In a press release, the association argued that crumbling infrastructure should be prioritised if the country’s road safety is to be improved.
“All too often, human behaviour is blamed for road crashes when, in fact, prevailing road conditions are the culprit,” said the AA.
“Research shows that there is an upward trajectory showing just how poor road environments contribute to fatal car crashes.”
These poor driving conditions can be attributed to dangerous potholes, inoperative streetlights, unkempt sidewalks and traffic islands, and blocked stormwater drains resulting in flooded streets.
“When it rains in certain areas, roads become gridlocked as even small streams become impassable,” the AA said.
“New potholes are created, and existing potholes get even bigger and deeper. Actions by motorists who swerve to avoid hitting these potholes, which then result in crashes, is ascribed to human error, which it is not; it’s road error caused by poor maintenance.”
The AA also attributed the high number of pedestrian fatalities to a lack of provisions made on their behalf – stating that pedestrians are often forced to take chances leading to injury or even death.
This includes a lack of sidewalks, forcing pedestrians to walk in the road, street lights that are not working when it’s dark, and a lack of safe road crossings and pedestrian bridges.
Another issue is poorly-maintained signs and road markers, which according to the AA lead to dangerous situations resulting from a lack of traffic control and direction.
The AA is calling upon road users to report all instances of maintenance failure to their local authorities.
South Africa currently aims to halve the number of deaths on its roads by 2030 – a goal which the AA said will be unattainable if urgent attention is not paid to road infrastructure.
Keyword: South Africa’s crumbling roads are to blame for high death toll – AA