JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Yes, violent crime in South Africa is worrying (and worsening). But South Africans perhaps ought to worry more about bad drivers.
This country has one of the highest rates of road deaths in the world. While figures differ depending on the source and method of accounting, some 15,000 people die every year on the country’s roads, of a population of about 53 million. This doesn’t account for the many people left badly injured by car crashes.
South Africa’s murder rate remains stubbornly high, with 17,068 people murdered in 2013-2014, or 32.2 per 100,000 people. But while violent crime draws a great deal of attention and consternation in South Africa and abroad, car accidents — not so much.
(And while we’re at it, neither do deaths from tuberculosis and HIV and AIDS — likely the biggest killers in South Africa, according to Africa Check, a fact-checking website).
News media are are currently reporting about a “horror crash” early Thursday that tore a car in two and left five people dead. On Monday, in one of several recent accidents involving minibus taxis, 15 people were killed when a taxi plunged off a bridge in KwaZulu-Natal onto the railway tracks below, where it was smashed by an incoming train.
A South African news website has even compiled five of the country’s most horrifying crashes caught on video.
Dipuo Peters, the transport minister, has announced a special road safety council and warned that road traffic fatalities have “serious economic costs” for the country.
“These consequences include the loss of family members who are bread winners and leave behind traumatized families,” she said in June. “The economic ramifications include the increase in the social development and health budgets spent.”
Drunk driving, speeding and aggressive driving are among the factors contributing to South Africa’s high rate of road deaths.
But calls for action have been made many times before, to little result.
By Erin Conway-Smith, GlobalPost
This article is syndicated from GlobalPost.