'SA accidents claim 38 lives daily'

Transport Dept says there’s “an overaggressive approach to driving in South Africa”.

The wreckage of a car involved in an accident on the N1 between Laingsburg and Beaufort Wes on Sunday 16 December 2012. Picture: Melvyn Boiskin/iWitness.

JOHANNESBURG - Department of Transport's Tiyani Rikhotso says 38 people lose their lives on South African roads daily.

Rikhotso spoke to Talk at Nine about the causes and effects of road accidents in South Africa.

Rikhotso said, "R306 billion is lost every year due to road accidents, this includes post accident services, compensation paid out by the Road Accident Fund and reconstruction done to roads and traffic lights. In Johannesburg alone, the police arrest more than 360 people for negligent driving with 50 percent of them being under the influence of alcohol."

He added there's "an overaggressive approach to driving in South Africa".

"Our studies suggest at least 90 percent of accidents are due to negligence. We need an attitude shift in this country and that's the only way to ensure drivers respect one another and the rules of the road."

Rikhotso argued that people need to know a driver's licence is the property of government and can be taken away any time.

The department dispatched teams of accident analysts to various parts of the country after 35 people died in road accidents at the weekend.

"It's sad to count bodies of human beings as if we're counting bags of potatoes," he said.

Asked what the department is doing to curb carnage on the roads, Rikhotso said the National Traffic Act ensures cars which have been involved in big accidents are not allowed back on the roads.

"We have periodic motor vehicle testing which is meant to make sure cars on the roads are in a good state and are fit to travel because unroadworthy vehicles are one of the major causes of mayhem on the roads."

The department added it would invite logistics companies, car rental companies, taxi associations, bus owners, fleet management companies and non-profit organisations campaigning for road safety to help curb the carnage.