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Serious concerns raised about driver negligence on South African Roads

Decisive action now needed to stem the carnage on our roads

Wednesday, October 15 2014

In the aftermath of yet another horrific truck accident, which resulted in a multi-vehicle pileup claiming the lives of four people and injuring many others, the Trauma Society of South Africa (Trauma SA) has come out strongly against the negligence of motorists. The organisation called on all drivers, but especially truck and bus drivers, to exercise greater caution and restraint and to follow the rules of the road.

According to Dr Timothy Hardcastle, trauma surgeon and president of Trauma SA, this is a particularly important message during transport month and during the week that the international trauma community remembers World Trauma Day, which is commemorated on 17 October every year.

According to statistics released by the Medical Research Council earlier this year, 18 000 people are killed annually on SA’s roads and a further 150 000 are severely injured. “These statistics are shocking to say the very least. In other words, 45 people perish on South Africa’s roads every day while the lives of more than 410 individuals are irrevocably and tragically impacted on a daily basis by carelessness and negligent behaviour. It is worth noting that 65% of these accidents are attributable to road users driving under the influence of alcohol. At R206 billion per annum even the financial burden of road fatalities is a high cost to bear for a developing nation, “comments Dr Timothy Hardcastle.

“There are a myriad of reasons why South Africa’s road death toll is so high. This includes anything from inadequately trained drivers who are literally let loose on South Africa’s roads with heavy vehicles that become ‘weapons of destruction’. The number of defective and poorly maintained motor vehicles and particularly trucks and busses are a major contributor to the loss of life on our roads.”

“Add to that poor road and environmental conditions alongside reckless and negligent behaviour, speeding and driving under the influence of alcohol and it is not at all hard to see why the number of deaths on SA’s roads is so alarmingly high. The general lawlessness of society when it comes to speeding and dangerous, aggressive driving has ensured that SA’s roads are among the deadliest in the world.”

“Overall there is just not enough respect shown for the laws of the road and the lives of others who make use of these roads,” asserts Dr Hardcastle.

As Head of Clinical Unit: Trauma Surgery and Deputy Director: Trauma Unit and Trauma ICU at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital, Dr Hardcastle has seen the effects of trauma as a result of road accidents first hand many times over. “If only we could get the South African public to understand how totally preventable many of the injuries and deaths on our country’s roads are, we would be able to reduce the tremendous dent in the growing number of serious road accidents that are increasingly destroying the lives of so many people every day.”

Long-serving member and current Secretary of Trauma SA and Head of Trauma at Netcare, Mande Toubkin, is a strong advocate for safer road use by South Africans. “There is a dire need to educate drivers on the dangers of speeding and drinking and driving. Not wearing seatbelts and not using car seats for little children is a matter of growing concern for Trauma SA as the use of seatbelts can, according to the World Health Organization prevent as many as 30% of fatalities. Buckling up is the simplest way of saving your child's life in an accident, it is therefore unthinkable that parents in this day and age would not absolutely insist on the wearing of seatbelts at all times,” she adds.

“In light of the latest, horrific accident in Johannesburg on Tuesday, the poor roadworthiness of heavy duty vehicles, buses and minibuses that wreak havoc on our roads must urgently be addressed. Finally, it would be invaluable if we could incorporate cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first-aid training as part of the training programme which precedes the issuing of drivers’ licenses,” concludes Dr Hardcastle.

Ends

Contact details
Dr Timothy Hardcastle
Telephone: +27824681615
Email: timothyhar@ialch.co.za

Mande Toubkin
Telephone: +27828207914
Emaimande.toubkin@netcare.co.za

Issued by : Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Trauma SA
Contact : Martina Nicholson, Sarah Beswick or Graeme Swinney
Telephone : (011) 469 3016
Email : : martina@mnapr.co.za, sarah@mnapr.co.za or graeme@mnapr.co.za

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