It has been revealed that road traffic crashes and fatalities in South Africa cost the country an exorbitant R143 billion, or 3,4% of GDP, in 2015.

Kobus Labuschagne, Chief Engineer of Traffic Engineering at the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport, made these revelations while presenting the cost of road crashes at the 2017 Southern African Transport Conference (SATC) held in Pretoria from 10-13 July.

He said it was estimated that 13 591 people died on South Africa’s roads in 2015.  About 62 520 people were seriously injured and a further 202 509 slightly injured on that year alone.

A further 1 429 794 people were involved in road traffic crashes without sustaining any injuries. Fin24 reports that Labuschagne explained that using historical data, estimations are that the ratio of serious injuries to fatalities was 4.6:1 and the ratio for slight injuries to fatalities was 14.9:1 in 2015.

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“Human casualty costs accounted for 69,3% of the total crash cost, while vehicle repairs accounted for 14,9% and related incident costs 15,8%,” he was quoted as saying by Fin24.

Prior to 2016, the last cost estimation for road traffic crashes was published in 2004 by the Department of Transport, highlighting the difficult process of obtaining useable data of South African-based road traffic crashes costs and related research.

Labuschagne believes good recording systems and databases typically contain a plethora of data elements, including the severity of crashes and the injuries sustained, as well as road user type, gender and age, dates and times, type, location and road conditions and the type of vehicle involved.

IOL reports the Road Accident Fund (RAF) reported a 46% rise in revenue to R33,2 billion for the 2015/16 financial year. The average value of claims paid according to RAF, increased by 24% from R114 969 to R143 127 in this financial period, while claims processing improved by 15% to R32.3 billion.

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Meanwhile, according to the Department of Transport, about 80% of road fatalities involve males between the ages of 19-35 and the World Health Organisation’s global research shows that traffic injuries are the leading cause of death among people aged 15-29.

Underestimating danger, speeding, late-night driving, distracted driving, not wearing safety belts, driving under the influence and inexperience account for increased risk of fatalities and car crashes.

Head of Technical Marketing for Discovery Insure, Precious Nduli, explains: “Underpinned by key insights from the science of Behavioural Economics, our Vitality programme offers a powerful tool through which to monitor, track and reward good driving.

“The chances of being involved in an accident are 10 times higher between 11pm and 4.30am. We have even taken data from our Discovery Insure Driving Challenge and compared our young drivers’ behaviour with all other age groups who are not Discovery clients, and they perform better on these measures. It is evident that our young drivers are better than the average older driver who is a non-Discovery Insure client because they get immediate feedback on their driving and also get rewarded,” Nduli says.

Additional reporting by IOL and Fin24