Factors contributing to fatalities among the youth include persistent risk-taking behaviour such as reluctance to use safety belts, driving at high speeds and driving under the influence of alcohol
A TOTAL of 8,547 young people, between 21 and 34 years old, died on the roads in the past three years, 2019 to 2021, according to statistics collated by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC).
The worst affected category is people between 30 and 34 years old, with 3,661 of them dying because of road crashes in the three-year period.
RTMC spokesperson Simon Zwane said the “alarming statistics” serve as a clarion call to young people to prioritise road safety as they engage in Youth Month festivities this month.
“Factors that contribute to the high number of road fatalities among the youth include persistent risk-taking behaviour such as reluctance to use safety belts, driving at speeds that are too high for circumstances and driving under the influence of alcohol,” Zwane said.
The provinces with the highest number of youth road fatalities are Gauteng with 1,380 deaths, followed by KwaZulu/Natal with 1,235 fatalities, Eastern Cape with 1,201 and Limpopo with 1,127. These four provinces account for 57.8% of fatalities among the youth.
Mpumalanga accounted for 968 fatalities among the youth, followed by Western Cape with 932, Free State 830, North West 640, and Northern Cape with 234 deaths.
“The RTMC calls for high levels of consciousness about road safety among the youth as road fatalities in this sector of society has a devastating impact on the economy and the future of the country,” Zwane said.
It has been estimated that fatal crashes cost the South African economy R188.31 billion last year based on the 10,611 fatal crashes recorded in the period with the loss of 12,545 lives.
RTMC CEO Makhosini Msibi said South Africa is facing a crisis on its roads and most of the victims are the economically active age group that is needed for the development of the country.
“It is saddening to read in road crash investigation reports that in most cases people die on the roads because of failure to use safety belts. In many instances it has been found that safety belts have been cut off or tied under the seats of vehicle and thus could not be used to save lives,” Msibi said.
He called on road users, road safety advocates and law enforcement officials to join hands in a bid to reduce the rising death trend of road deaths among young people.
The RTMC supports World Health Organisation recommendations that traffic-calming measures should be constructed in areas with high pedestrian traffic to reduce vehicle speed and save lives.