A new report issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) warns that excessive or inappropriate speed contributes to one in every three road traffic fatalities worldwide.

About 1.25 million people die every year on the world’s road while around 14 000 people lose their lives in traffic related incidents in South Africa.

The report- Managing Speed – also finds that drivers who are male, young and under the influence of alcohol are more likely to be involved in speed-related crashes.

The WHO has found that road traffic crashes remain the number one cause of death among young people aged 15-29.

Director of the Organisation’s Department for Management of Non-communicable Diseases, Dr Etienne Krug says: “Speed is a major risk factor for road traffic crashes all around the world. If a pedestrian is hit by a car that drives at 50km/h the probability of death will be 20%. However, at 80km/h it will be 60%. Today, 30% of all people killed on the road are killed due to excessive speed.”

The report calls for road modifications that calm the flow of traffic, establishing speed limits appropriate to each road, greater enforcement through technology, while intelligent in-vehicle technological advancements could also bring down fatalities.

“We know what needs to be done. It’s a question of having legislation that is adapted, making sure that there are speed limits set for the function of each of the roads. That these speed limits are enforced, we know how to do that, with cameras etc. We need to make sure that also infrastructure is built with roundabouts and speed bumps so that speeding is not possible. Work on vehicle technology and make sure that people are informed and aware through information campaigns of the dangers of speed and the dramatic consequences of speeding.”

Road traffic fatalities are newly three times lower in Europe compared to Africa.

Dr Krug adds: “We won’t achieve the sustainable development goal targets if we don’t tackle speed. It’s a major risk factor, it’s time to do something and do it now.”

The report also points to countries that have had the most success in drastically reducing rates of road traffic death and injury in recent decades – the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom among others.

It reveals that these countries have prioritized safe speed as one of four components; the others safe roads and roadsides, safe vehicles and safe road users.


PHOTO: About 1.25 million people die every year on the world’s road while around 14 000 people lose their lives in traffic related incidents in South Africa.(SABC)


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