The announcement by the Ministry of Transport in March 2011 that 5.5-million vehicles and drivers had been checked during the last four months is heartwarming, as the losses in lives and property and assets due to the high accident figures on our roads are not acceptable.
These losses add up and negatively affect the economy, and many societies, families and individuals. Road losses also influence the affordability of motor insurance in South Africa.
SAIA is implementing a holistic motor insurance strategy to address the affordability of comprehensive motor insurance in South Africa, as well as to assist in making roads safer for all South African citizens.
The strategy includes many areas, addressing both the number of claims which is related to road safety and vehicle crime, as well as the cost of claims which mainly relates to the repair of vehicles after accidents, he said.
Initiatives currently include the motivation for compulsory third party motor property insurance, creating awareness about the responsibilities of motorists on our roads, working with the relevant authorities to address issues around road safety, several projects to continue to address vehicle crime, considering the cost of repairs, and many more.
The industry has a good history when tackling important issues head-on and in a collaborative manner.
Through various initiatives, including joint actions taken by the relevant authorities, Business Against Crime South Africa (BACSA), the South African Insurance Crime Bureau (SAICB), the motor manufacturers and vehicle security role players, as well as the SAIA and its members, vehicle crime has decreased since 2002 on average by approximately 50%.
The SAIA has, for example, contributed between one and two million rand per annum toward the fight against vehicle and other crime through annual donations to BACSA between 2002 and 2010, Scott said.
We believe that a similar effort is needed in the road safety arena and wish to take hands with all the relevant role players in addressing this serious area of concern as an industry, Scott said.
SA road incident rate too high
Some of the world’s most dangerous roads are South African. In December 2010, 43 people a day, in a population of 50-million, were killed in traffic incidents, about the same as the previous December, despite a legal crackdown on motorists.
Government hopes to halve road deaths by 2015. Road deaths totalled 16 000 in 2007, amounting to 33 road deaths per 100 000 inhabitants in 2007 (World Health Organisation data).
SA suffers double the road fatality rate of the USA, where vehicle owership is about one vehicle per citizen, and six times the rate in Britain, with about one vehicle per two citizens.
These countries have similar road legislation. Drunk driving limit is stricter in South Africa than in Britain or USA.
South Africans tend to ignore the law, partly due to poor enforcement, an ethic of traffic fines as a form of funding, corruption, and disrespect for enforcement agencies.
SA wants to change such attitudes. Authorities had checked 4.5-million drivers, issued 2-m fines, removed 26 000 dud vehicles from the road, and arrested 7000 offenders and drunk drivers.
Research by South Africa’s Medical Research Council showed that 61% of pedestrians and 59% of drivers killed in traffic accidents were over the legal alcohol limit.
PHOTO; South African Insurance Association (SAIA) CE Barry Scott.