At the Third African Road Safety Conference South Africa, Ghana and Nigeria were acknowledged as those countries most likely to achieve the goals outlined by the African Road Safety Action Plan. These countries are recognised for placing education as central to their success in bringing road safety messages and attitudes into classrooms, so the next generation is more aware of the dangers presented by our roads.
The focus of the African Road Safety Conference and the African Road Safety Plan is to support the development of safer roads and the good news is that progress has been made. While some countries are battling to keep up with the requirements outlined by these plans, others are stepping up their game and making a difference.
“African countries are not ignoring the issues that impact their roads and it is reassuring to know that they are putting tangible plans in place to shift attitudes and educate their people,” says Charlette Roetz, General Manager for marketing at Tracker. “Now we just need to ensure that South African drivers use all the driver safety tools at their disposal so they are not added to a long line of terrible statistics.”
In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 64/255 that proclaimed 2011-2020 as the Decade of Action for Road Safety. This led to the development of the African Road Safety Action plan that prioritises understanding road safety management and activities and challenges in African countries. It is now ten years into the process and the situation remains complex, but there have been shifts in attitude and education with countries such as Nigeria achieving impressive results.
In Nigeria and South Africa, Arrive Alive is the leading campaign for road safety and educating drivers about the dangers of the road. In Nigeria, the Arrive Alive Road Safety Initiative focuses on addressing the low awareness of safe driving behavior, as well as the inadequate enforcement of laws and limited laws within the country. While in South Africa it has had impressive traction in educating the public on road safety.
“The challenges that we face in South Africa are that many people are not aware of the dangers that are on the roads and take unnecessary risks,” says Roetz. “Just a look at the statistics from last year’s festive death toll is enough to paint a tragic picture. There were around 1376 people killed on South Africa’s roads in January 2014, and many of those could have been prevented. The school holidays should not be a time of tragedy, they should be about fun, safety and spending time with family.”
According to the World Health Organisation’s global status report published in 2013, around 1.24 million people die each year on the world’s roads with an additional 20-50 million receiving non-fatal injuries as the result of an accident. Injuries caused by cars are the eighth leading cause of death across the globe and young people aged 15-29 are the most likely to be killed. Africa has the most dangerous roads in the world with even more worrying statistics – 24.1 per 100,000 population – and so it is perhaps something of a relief to know that there are plans in place to change these figures and ensure the roads become a safer place to drive.