Decade of Action for Road Safety in SA: Mid- term Report


General Overview of the United Nations-General Assembly (UNGA) resolutions and key points of UNGA.

South Africa is a signatory to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Treaty along other 14 Member States. The SADC Treaty gave rise to various protocol instruments, one of which is the protocol on Transport, Communications and Meteorology with the view to implement the desires of the SADC Treaty. The SADC Protocol provides that member states must establish Transport, Communications and Meteorology systems that provide efficient, cost-effective and fully integrated infrastructure and operations to promote economic and social development while being environmentally and economically sustainable.

Over the years Member States of SADC have held several conferences, to discuss key priority issues within the sector. The Accra Conference, held in Ghana in 2007, was a key milestone in Road Safety. The Accra Declaration declared road safety as a health, transportation, law enforcement, education, and development priority.

The main goal of the Resolution is to stabilise and then reduce the forecasted level of road traffic fatalities around the world by increasing activities conducted at national, regional and global levels. The Resolution calls upon Member States to implement road safety activities, particularly in the areas of road safety management, road infrastructure, vehicle safety, road user behaviour, road safety education and the post-crash response. It further stresses the need for multi-sector partnership.

In 2010 United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) A/64/255, UNGA unanimously adopted the resolution calling for a Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011–2020 subsequent to the first global conference of the Ministers of Transport which took place in Russia.

South Africa was a signatory to the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020, at the first global conference for Ministers of Transport, which took place in November 2009 in Moscow, Russia. The UN called for all Member States to launch the Decade of Action for Road Safety on 11 May 2011 and South Africa participated as such. The United Nations Road Safety Collaboration (UNRSC) which is an implementing arm for the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety further recommended a global action plan to guide countries in the implementation of the Decade of Action. The global plan consists of 5 Pillars and is widely adhered to by Member States.

The second global conference for Ministers of Transport will be held on 18-20 November 2015 in Brazil. The reporting period is from 2012/3 to August 2015.

1. Acronyms


Cross-Border Road Traffic Agency


International Monetary Fund


International Standards Organisation


Millennium Development Goals


National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa


National Department of Transport


National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications


National Road Traffic Act


Road Accident Fund


Road Traffic Infringement Agency


Road Traffic Management Corporation Act


South African Bureau of Standards


Southern African Development Community


South African


South Africa Police Service


United Nations


World Health Organisation


Working Party 29


Education, Enforcement, Engineering and Evaluation


1. Road Transport Sector in RSA

The National Department of Transport (NDoT) is responsible for conducting sector research; formulating legislation and policies to set the strategic direction of sub-sectors. The department’s aim is to lead the development of efficient integrated transport systems by creating a framework of sustainable policies and regulations; and implementable models to support Government strategies for socio-economic development. The NDoT was mandated to focus on the following key areas in South Africa:

  • Railway and Harbour,
  • Roads,
  • Motor Vehicles,
  • Civil Aviation and
  • Shipping.

The NDoT sets out a key milestone for South Africa in the achievement of the UN decade of Action, in line with the UN resolution. South Africa committed to reduce road carnage by 50% from 13 967 to below 7000 by 2020. The NDoT sets out an action plan for the achievement of the goals, through the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) as a lead agency on road safety matters, and working together with all the other Entities within the transport sector. The table below provides a brief description of the mandate that has been bestowed on each of the Entities of Transport.

Entity Name

Short Description

Road Traffic Management Corporation

The RTMCA was approved by Parliament in 1999 in line with the provisions of section 44(2) of the Constitution. The Act aimed to establish the RTMC to pool powers, resources and to eliminate the fragmentation of responsibilities for all aspects of road traffic management across the various levels of government.

Road Accident Fund

The Agency is responsible for the settlement of claims arising out of a motor vehicle crash , which has occurred on a public road. It is a form of insurance that the state grants to all road users. The fund is funded out of a fuel levy which is included in the sale of fuel in the Republic. There is no legal requirement for third party motor vehicle insurance.

Road Traffic Infringement Agency

The agency is responsible for the administration and adjudication of road traffic offences. The purpose of the agency is to remove some of the road traffic violations from the criminal justice system. The process entails the allocation of demerit points for any person that has transgressed road traffic laws.

Cross border Road Traffic Agency

The agency is responsible for the regulation of both freight and public transport cross border operations. Its mandate is to issue permits to operators that intend to travel to neighbouring states. It does not apply to ordinary citizens that travel across the border.

South Africa National Road Agency

The agency is responsible for the construction and maintenance of all national roads in the Republic. Provincial roads fall under the auspice of the relevant provincial departments.

2. Road Infrastructure in RSA

South Africa is only 21 years into its democratic government. This therefore implies that there would have been some areas that were not prioritized for infrastructural development by the then government of the day. The spatial planning during the government of the day was such that certain areas were far remote from urban areas and such areas were left underdeveloped and rural.

That said, in keeping with the National Development Plan (NDP), government pronounced the largest single public asset of the country to be its road network and preserving the network as top priority. The NDP further outlines the national and provincial roads to be prime means of connecting people and moving cargo from small settlements and secondary towns to the centres of economic activity. This proper planning and design of road infrastructure development articulated in the NDP, it emphasises the kind of planning that aide the previously disadvantaged communities to have access to roads.

To date, South Africa has a road network of approximately 750 000 km which is the 10th longest total network in the World. Roads represent one of the largest public infrastructure investments in most countries. South Africa depends heavily on road transport for the movement of people and goods. The South African road network comprises National, Primary and Secondary Roads.

Approximately 154 000 km of the 750 000 km are paved roads. The road network falls under the jurisdiction of National, Provincial and Local Authorities, while 140 000 km of roads are currently under process of being proclaimed. The National Authority is the South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL), under whose jurisdiction 21 403 km of the National Road Network falls, all of which are paved. The nine Provinces account for 44 400 km of paved roads and 136 640 km of unpaved (gravel roads). The major cities which comprise the eight Metropolitan areas, account for almost 52 000 km of paved roads, while over 300 000 km unpaved roads are at local authority level.

Only 1573 km of the 21 403 km of the National Road Network are dual carriageway. The vast majority of the National Road Network 19 280 km (90%) comprises 2 lanes single carriageway. Toll Roads account for 15% (3 120 km) of the total National Road Network. Although the National Road Network only accounts for 2, 8% of the total road network, it carrier 26,6% of all traffic, including 70% of all freight movement.

3. Overview of Road Safety in RSA

The first road crash in South Africa happened on October 1, 1903 in Maitland, Cape Town. Since that crash, about 451 960 people had been killed; 1 471 925 seriously injured and 3 908 600 slightly injured in a total of about 19, 98 million crashes on South African roads until 2007. Of these figures in the order of about 50% occurred during the past two and a half decades from 1990, emphasising the fact that the rate of road traffic casualties has reached unacceptably high levels. This could be the function of an increase in middle class due to the relatively equitable economic climate culmination an increase in vehicle population. The percentage of road crashes and casualties per category are also shown in the graphs below.

The above historic data further shows that:

  • For every 1 person killed in a road crash, an average of 3 others are seriously injured; and
  • For every 1 person killed, averages of 9 others are slightly injured.

During 2007 a total of about 60 800 persons, translating to 167 per day, were seriously injured and required hospitalisation which consumed a large percentage of the available beds in hospitals and medical care centres. During the 2013-2014 financial year, the Road Accident Fund (RAF) assisted 26 000 people with general damages, 13 000 for the loss of income, 127 000 people for medical care costs and contributed financially to 6 300 funerals stemming from road crashes. The RAF expenditure for the last two financial years amounted to around R55bn in post-crash care and rehabilitation.

Note should be taken that although currently great emphasis is placed on fatal crashes and fatalities, major crashes resulting in serious injuries and even minor crashes resulting in slight injuries, should also receive the necessary priority as any of these crash categories, under slightly different prevailing conditions could have resulted in a fatal crash and fatalities.

4. Overview of Road Crash Statistics

4.1 Human Population

Human Population
  Mid 2012 Mid 2013 % Change
Human Population 51 672 532 52  982 000 2.53 %
  Mid 2013 Mid 2014 % Change
Human Population 52 982 000 54 002 000 1.93 %

The information in the table above shows:

  • An increase of 2.53% in the human population from 51.7 million in 2012 to about 53 million in 2013; and
  • A further increase of 1.93% to a total of 54 million in 2014.

More information in this regard is provided in Annexure A (1).

4.2 Driving Licences and Professional Driving Permits (PrDPs)

Number of Driving Licences and Permits
Licence category Dec-13 Dec-14 Change % Change
Learner licences 1 250 178 1 241 497 -8 681 -0.69
Driving licences 10 645 046 11 148 372 503 326 4.73
Professional driving permits 972 145 1 001 026 28 881 2.97

The information in the table above shows:

  • A decrease of 0.69% in the number of learner licences from 1.250 million in 2013 to 1.241 million in 2014;
  • An increase of 4.73% in the number of driving licences from 10.645 million in 2013 to 11.148 million in 2014; and
  • An increase of 2.97% in the number of professional driving permits (PrDP’s) from 0.972 million in 2013 to 1.001 million in 2014.

4.3 Number of Registered Vehicles

Total Number of Motorised Vehicles
Vehicle Type Dec-13 Dec-14 Change % Change
Motorcars 6 376 656 6 620 822 244 166 3.83
Minibuses 289 077 293 758 4 681 1.62
Buses 54 494 56 814 2 320 4.26
Motorcycles 367 231 368 029 798 0.22
LDV's (Bakkies) 2 228 506 2 303 072 74 566 3.35
Trucks 350 498 359 758 9 260 2.64
Other & Unknown 243 461 247 251 3 790 1.56
Total 9 909 923 10 249 504 339 581 3.43

The information in the table above shows:

  • An increase of 3.43% in the total number of registered motorised vehicles from 9.909 million at the end of 2013 to about 10.249 million in 2014; and
  • On a percentage basis the biggest increase was in the number of buses which increased by 4.26% from 54 494 at the end of 2013 to 56 814 at the end of 2014.

The number of vehicles registered per fuel type (petrol and diesel) is given in the table below.

Number of Vehicles Registered per Fuel Type
Fuel Type Dec 2012 Dec 2013 Change % Change
Petrol driven 7 714 924 7 928 021 213 097 2.76
Diesel driven 1 807 872 1 965 210 157 338 8.70
Total 9 522 796 9 893 231 370 435 3.89
Diesel % of total 18.98 % 19.86 %  

The information in the table above shows:

  • An increase of 2.76% in the total number of registered petrol driven motorised vehicles from 7.71 million at the end of 2012 to about 7.93 million in 2013;
  • An increase of 8.70% in the total number of registered diesel driven motorised vehicles from 1.81 million at the end of 2012 to about 1.97 million in 2013; and
  • At the end of 2013 diesel driven vehicles was in the order of 19.86% of all motorised vehicles in comparison with 11.48% in 2000 (see Annexure A(2)).

The average number of persons per motorised vehicle from 2000 to 2013 is shown in the graph below.

Average number of persons per motorized vehicle

The information in the graph above shows a decline from 7.19 in 2000 to 5.36 persons per vehicle in 2013, indicating an increase in the mobility of the human population as well as a general increase in the number of persons able to afford a vehicle. More information in this regard is provided in Annexure A (2).

4.4 Total Fuel Sales

Total fuel sales per fuel type in the RSA for 2013 and 2014 are shown in the table below.

Total Fuel Sales -Megalitres
Fuel Type Dec-13 Dec-14 Change % Change
Petrol 11 153 11 344 191 1.71
Diesel 11 890 13 169 1 279 10.76
Total 23 043 24 513 1 470 6.38
Diesel & of total 51.60 % 53.72 %  

The information in the table above shows:

  • An increase of 1.71% in petrol sales from 11 153 mega-litres in 2013 to 11 344 mega-litres in 2014;
  • An increase of 10.76% in diesel sales from 11 890 mega-litres in 2013 to 13 169 mega-litres in 2014; and
  • In 2014 diesel sales were 53.72% of all fuel sales in comparison with 51.60% in 20113.

More information in this regard is provided in Annexure A (3).

4.5 Fuel Sales for Road Use

Estimated fuel sales per fuel type for road use in the RSA for 2012 and 2013 are shown in the table below (required for estimating annual travel by motorised vehicles).

Fuel Sales for Road Use -Megalitres
Fuel Type Dec-12 Dec-13 Change % Change
Petrol 11 444 10 885 -559 -4.89 %
Diesel 8 403 8 912 509 6.06 %
Total 19 847 19 797 -50 -0.25 %
Diesel & of total 42.34 % 45.02 %  

The information in the table above shows:

  • A decrease of 4.89% in estimated petrol sales for road use from 11 444 mega-litres in 2012 to 10 885mega-litres in 2013;
  • An increase of 6.06% in diesel sales from 8 403 mega-litres in 2012 to 8 912mega-litres in 2013; and
  • In 2013 diesel sales were 45.02% of all fuel sales for road use in comparison with 42.34% in 2012.

More information in this regard is provided in Annexure A (3).

4.6 Estimated annual distance travelled by motorised vehicles

The total estimated annual distance travelled by motorised vehicles in the RSA, in terms of million vehicle kilometres (mvk) for 2012 and 2013 are shown in the table below.

Total Est. Annual distance travelled per Fuel Type (MilVehKms)
Fuel Type Dec-12 Dec-13 Change % Change
Petrol driven vehicles 109 476 104 961 -4 515 -4.12 %
Diesel driven vehicles 39 220 41 924 2 704 6.89 %
Total 148 696 146 885 -1 811 -1.22%
Diesel & of total 26.38 % 28.54 %  

The information in the table above shows:

  • A decrease of 4.12% in the estimated total distance travelled by petrol driven vehicles from 109 476 mvk in 2012 to 104 961 in 2013;
  • An increase of 6.89% in the estimated total distance travelled by diesel driven vehicles from 39 220 mvk in 2012 to 41 924 in 2013; and
  • In 2013 the total distance travelled by diesel driven vehicles were 28.54% of all travel in comparison with 26.38% in 2012.

More information in this regard is provided in Annexure A (4).

4.7 Number of Fatal Crashes and Fatalities

The table below provides information for year 2013 and 2014.

The information in the table above shows:

  • An increase of 197 (1.94%) in the number of fatal crashes from 10 170 in 20103 to 10 367 in 2014; and
  • An increase of 858 (7.24%) in the number of fatalities from 11 844 in 2013 to 12 702 in 2014.

More information in this regard is provided in Annexures B (1) and B(2).

4.8 Severity Rate of Fatal Crashes

The severity of fatal crashes, which is the average number of persons killed per fatal crash from 2000 to 2014, is shown in the table below.

Severity of fatal crashes
Year Severity Change % Change
2000 1.27    
2001 1.27 0.00 0.07
2002 1.22 -0.05 -3.89
2003 1.21 -0.01 -0.96
2004 1.20 -0.01 -0.60
2005 1.20 0.00 0.02
2006 1.24 0.03 2.78
2007 1.24 0.00 0.35
2008 1.28 0.04 3.37
2009 1.27 -0.02 -1.24
2010 1.29 0.02 1.63
2011 1.24 -0.05 -3.63
2012 1.24 0.00 -0.21
2013 1.16 -0.07 -6.04
2014 1.23 0.07  5.62

The severity rates in the table above, amongst other shows:

  • An increase of 0.07 (5.62%) from a rate of 1.16 in 2013 to a rate of 1.23 in 2014; and
  • A decrease of 0.07 (3.58%) from a rate of 1.24 in 2012 to a rate of 1.16 in 2013.

The severity rates of fatal crashes from 1990 to 2014 are also reflected in the graph below.

The information in the graph above shows a relatively steady rate over years, with the exception of 1999 when the rate was as high as 1.43 which is due to a large number of bus crashes during that year, resulting in a high number of fatalities per crash

The severity of fatal crashes is mainly attributed to:

  • The speed at which a crash happens – the higher the speed the higher the rate;
  • The wearing rate of seatbelts, the higher the wearing rate the lower the severity;
  • The type of crash, for example the severity rate is higher for vehicles travelling in the opposite directions resulting in head-on crashes (which is contributed to by illegal and unsafe overtaking) and lower for vehicles travelling in the same direction (head-rear crashes), depending on the following distance and the speed differential between the vehicles; and
  • The number of high occupancy vehicles (buses and minibuses) involved in fatal crashes.

The comparison of straight numbers of crashes and fatalities from year to year, or between regions or other countries, is not a realistic yardstick to measure achievements. For example, comparing a country with a human population of 1 000 000 and 500 road fatalities per year with a country with a human population of 50 000 000 and say 10 000 road fatalities per year, may at a glance indicate that the first country is “safer” than the second country because of its lower number of road fatalities. However, calculating the number of road fatalities per 100 000 human population, shows a rate of 50.0 fatalities per 100 000 human population for the first country and a rate of only 20.0 per 100 000 for the second country, indicating that the second country is “safer” than the first country.

For the purpose of annual or inter-regional or international comparisons, three basic indicators or rates have been developed. These are:

  • Fatalities per Human Population, which is the least accurate because it omits consideration of important factors in the traffic environment;
  • Fatalities per Vehicle Population; and
  • Fatalities per Distance Travelled, which is the most accurate because it takes into consideration the important factors in the traffic environment.

Rates for the above indicators are given below.

4.9 Fatalities per Human Population

The number of road fatalities per 100 000 human population from 2000 to 2014 are shown in the table below.

Fatalities per 100 000 Human Population
Year Severity Change % Change
2000 19.60    
2001 25.27 5.66 28.89
2002 27.00 1.73 6.87
2003 26.78 -0.23 -0.85
2004 27.42 0.64 2.40
2005 30.15 2.73 9.95
2006 32.54 2.39 7.93
2007 31.18 -1.35 -4.16
2008 28.72 -2.46 -7.90
2009 27.43 -1.29 -4.49
2010 27.49 0.07 0.25
2011 27.56 0.07 0.24
2012 26.39 -1.17 -4.25
2013 22.34 -4.05 -15.35
2014 23.53 1.19 5.33

The rates in the table above, amongst others show:

  • An increase of 5.66 (28.89%) from a rate of 19.60 in 2000 to a rate of 25.27 in 2001; and
  • A decrease of 4.05 (15.35%) from a rate of 26.39 in 2012 to a rate of 22.34 in 2013.

The severity rates of fatal crashes from 1950 to 2014 are also reflected in the graph below.

The information in the graph above shows:

  • A decrease in the rate from 36.46 in 1990 to a low of 19.44 in 2000;
  • An increase from 2000 to rate of 32.54 in 2006; and
  • A further decrease from 2006 to a rate of 27.58 in 2011.

In the 2013 World Health Organisation (WHO) “Global Status Report on Road Safety” comparative figures on the number of road deaths per 100 000 human population are also given for various countries. A number of countries were randomly selected from that report for comparison purposes as shown in the graph below.

The rates in the graph above shows that the RSA recorded the highest rate, 27.9 in 2009 in comparison with a rate of 22.0 for Botswana and a rate of 3.0 for Ethiopia. Comparing the four BRICS (Brazil, India, China and South Africa) countries in the graph above shows that RSA still recorded the highest rate followed by Brazil.

4.10 Fatalities per Motorised Vehicle Population

The number of road fatalities per 10 000 motorised vehicles from 2000 to 2012 are shown in the table below.

Fatalities per 10 000 Human Population
Year Fatalities Change % Change
2000 14.08    
2001 18.31 4.23 30.07
2002 19.67 1.35 7.40
2003 19.51 -0.16 -0.80
2004 19.51 0.00 -0.01
2005 20.48 0.97 4.96
2006 20.86 0.39 1.89
2007 18.90 -1.96 -9.40
2008 16.83 -2.08 -10.98
2009 16.24 -0.59 -3.50
2010 16.04 -.020 -1.23
2011 15.50 -0.54 -3.36
2012 14.43 -1.07 -6.90
2013 12.17 -2.26 -15.66
2014 12.57 0.40 3.29

The rates in the table above, amongst other shows:

  • An increase of 4.23 (30.07%) from a rate of 14.08 in 2000 to a rate of 18.31 in 2005; and
  • A decrease of 2.26 (15.66%) from a rate of 14.43 in 2012 to a rate of 12.17 in 2013.

The number of fatal crashes and number of fatalities per 10 000 motorised vehicles from 1935 to 2014 are also reflected in the graph below.

The information in the graph above shows:

  • A decrease in both rates from 1990 to lows of 11.00 crashes and 13.98 fatalities per 10 000 vehicles in 2000 where-after increases followed; and
  • Further decreases in both rates from 2006 to lows of 12.29 crashes and 15.28 fatalities per 10 000 vehicles in 2000.

4.11 Contributory Factors to Crashes and the Level of Lawlessness on RSA Roads

Local research shows that in the order of 95% of road traffic crashes happen as a direct result of one or more traffic offences. Some of the main contributory factors to fatal road crashes, as submitted over a number of years by the SAPS to the RTMC on fatal accident report forms and categorised as human, vehicle and road environment are as follows:

More information in this regard can be provided upon request.

Some main contributory factors to fatal road crashes
Human Factors in Fatal Crashes % of Group
Speed to high for circumstances 36.40
Pedestrian: Jay walking 31.74
Overtook when unlawful / unsafe 7.33
Turn in front of oncoming traffic 3.23
Disregard: red traffic light / stop sign/ yield sign 3.12
Vehicle Factors in Fatal Crashes % of Group
Tyres: Burst prior to crash 36.30
Brakes: Faulty 25.04
Steering: Faulty 24.15
Vehicle Lights: Faulty, not switches on, blinding, etc 2.07
Road & Environment Factors in Fatal Crashes % of Group
Sharp bend 27.99
Poor condition of road surface 20.40
Poor visibility (Rain, mist, dust, smoke, dawn) 15.01

The information in the table above is illustrated below as follow: Of the 82.84% for human factor, what is the percentage breakdown according to offences (e.g. 35.40% of the 82.84% comprises excessive speed)



Human factors


  • Excessive speed and ignoring of speed limits: 35.40% of the human factors group and 30.15% of all factors;
  • Pedestrians jay-walking, not using pedestrian facilities or ignoring traffic signals and signs: 31.74% of the human factors group and 26.29% of all factors; and
  • Unsafe and unlawful overtaking across barrier lines leading to high impact crashes and fatalities: 7.33% of the human factors group and 6.07% of all factors.

Vehicle factors


  • Tyre burst prior to crash relating to damaged tyres or debris on the road: 36.30% of the vehicle factors group and 3.32% of all factors;
  • Faulty brakes contributing to head-rear crashes resulting in fatalities: 25.04% of the vehicle factors group and 2.29% of all factors;
  • Faulty steering due to poor maintenance and leading to un-controllable vehicles and crashes: 24.15% of the vehicle factors group and 2.21% of all factors; and
  • Faulty lights (head-lights, rear-lights, brake-lights): 2.07% of the vehicle factors group and 0.19% of all factors.

Road and environment factors


  • Sharp bend in the road relating to speed too high for circumstances or poor or inadequate signs indicating such bends: 27.99% of the road and environment factors group and 0.19% of all factors;
  • Poor condition of the road surface. relating to potholes and bumpy driving conditions: 20.40% of the road and environment factors group. and 1.64% of all factors; and

poor visibility relating to driving too fast under adverse conditions and/or inadequate advance warning of such conditions: 15.01% of the road and environment factors group and 1.20% of all factors.


1. Challenges facing RSA

The following are the challenges that the country has and remedial measures are in place to address them:

Driver Behaviour

Irresponsible driver behaviour has been noted as the major contributor to road crashes, with the following key factors playing a major role, namely; distracted driving (due to use of mobile phones for example), drunken driving, over speeding, none compliance to the rules of the road. This challenge is addressed under Pillar 4.

State of our Vehicles

Currently the vehicles are not tested regularly. However, there are plans to introduce regular testing on a five-year basis. This challenge is addressed under Pillar 3.

State of our roads

South Africa generally has a good roads infrastructure. The country continues to invest and identify key road infrastructure improvements required. The increase in population figures and economic movements have resulted in depleting and inadequately maintained road infrastructure. This challenge is also addressed under Pillar 2.

Fraud and Corruption

Fraud and corruption is prevalent in the industry, specifically in driver and vehicle licensing, vehicle roadworthiness, enforcement and the public transport licensing industry. This is addressed under Pillar 4.

Fragmentation in execution of programmes

The powers given among the three spheres of government in line with the constitution are concurrent, while others are provincial and local government competences respectively. That has resulted in fragmentation and ineffective law enforcement among authorities

Vulnerable Road Users

A little less than 40% is the rate of pedestrian deaths. Therefore, pedestrians contribute significantly to the road fatality statistics.


Lead Agency

The National Department Transport as a coordinating body through its entities established the Road Traffic Management Corporation in terms of the RTMC Act (Act 20 of 1999) as a lead agency on traffic and road safety matters. The RTMC together with provinces, local authorities and transport entities have established coordination and facilitation structures that identify key strategic delivery programmes for road safety and law enforcement, coordinate the implementation of the programmes and monitors and evaluate progress against the key strategic delivery areas across all the three spheres of government.

National Road Safety Strategy

The National Road Safety Strategy 2006 Onwards was developed and approved. The latter document remains the official government document to date. The document was developed on the premise of the 4 Es’. There is work currently under way to review the national road safety strategy. The road policy is nearing its conclusion from the 1996 White Paper on Transport. This is where the road safety policy was alluded to.

Setting of Targets

Taking into perspective the percentage variance of the number of motorized vehicles on our roads back in 2012 compared to current, there is a remarkable increase. Zooming closer to the recent years, as recent as 2012, there is a notable distinct rise from 7 714 924 to 10 249 504 in 2014. That alone tells a story, that the road infrastructure developed back in the day cannot keep up with the increase of vehicles hence firstly, infrastructural development remains a priority in the country and secondly, when looking at targets, cognisance should be paid to the fact that targets that are set annually of decreasing road carnage should take into account that there would have been more cars on the road each year.

South Africa’s targets have been set, and measures are in place to achieve the targets. The targets are outlined in the consolidated National Department of Transport Strategic Plan (Year to Year) and Annual Performance Plan (Financial year) which captures the key delivery areas for all transport departments and entities.


The National Treasury allocates budget to the Department of Transport and Entities. The budget allocation focuses on the key delivery areas of Transport namely roads infrastructure (dealt with under Pillar 2), road safety and law enforcement programmes (dealt with under Pillar 4) and Road Accident funding (dealt with under Pillar 5). Currently road safety is under-resourced. However, discussions at Cabinet level will address this challenge.

Data Management

South Africa uses a multi-pronged method of collecting statistics with the South African Police Services (SAPS) being the first to arrive at the scene of the crash. The Department of Health with its paramedics serves as another source for the country’s statistics supported by other State organs such as the Metro Traffic, Provincial Traffic Authorities and some of the transport entities.


3.1 Road Safety ownership and accountability among key authorities, road engineers and urban planners

The proper planning and design of infrastructure development is critical to road safety. A strong need has been established for road authorities to identify and understand road safety risk on a road network level. A network level road assessment tool, called Netsafe© has been developed. This tool identifies high risk portions of roads, similar to iRAP, and uses video analytics of road features plus road operational components such as operating speeds to calculate a Road Safety Risk Index for uniform sections for the primary road network. This network assessment tool has been applied to approximately 20 000 km of hazardous locations in South Africa's primary road network. A series of workshops are being conducted throughout the country to further implement appropriate remedial measures at high priority locations identified through Netsafe©.

3.2 Sustainable Urban Planning, Transport Demand and Land Use Management

The country has got a plan to reduce congestion in urban areas by introducing facilities that are accommodating a number of people in a mode of transport. This is where transport systems interface hence reducing congestion and confusion in the urban areas.

Integrated Public Transport Network: Investment in public transport is paramount, in creating safer mobility for all road users. The country has a plan to reduce congestion in urban areas by introducing facilities that are accommodating the number of people in a single transport and provide an alternative mode of transport such as ‘bus rapid transit’ system; e.g. Rea vaya, My Citi as well as a mode such as Gautrain. The country has also created dedicated lanes dealing with mass movers to reduce congestion and promote road safety. In the metros in particular, pedestrian lanes and cyclists’ lanes have been developed to separate vehicle traffic and pedestrians from vehicle traffic thus creating safety on the urban areas.

3.3 Infrastructure Maintenance

South Africa has 750 000km of roads and they have different levels. There are some exceptionally good roads in the country and poor roads too. They are graded from good, fair, poor and very poor. There is an on-going maintenance of roads taking place across the year in different parts of the country to improve the state of our roads. There are also many active community development programmes throughout the country which provide for the delivery of footpaths, sidewalk and pedestrian bridges. And these come at a high cost to the country. We also note the maintenance backlog of about 37% which will be cleared at a cost of approximately R197 billion.

3.4 New Infrastructure Development

In relation to road safety the fact is that the road connectivity within the country is still a challenge, linking the communities particularly the previously disadvantageous communities is a challenge. People walk on average more than 10km to reach a public transport facility. It is always an expensive exercise to build a new network to link the communities. This country is one of the mountainous countries with deep valleys and rivers to be crossed. These rivers need to be crossed through bridges that are very expensive to build. These previously disadvantaged communities need to be linked through thousands of kilometres which are expensive to build. We continue as a country to build well-engineered safe roads addressing the backlog that we have as a country which is to link communities and make trade easier for the country.

3.5 Capacity Building

In line with the National Development Plan (NDP) under chapter 4 there is commitment by government to strengthen institutional capacity for road traffic.

Furthermore, there is a review and publication of the South African Road Safety Audit Manual (SARSAM) which is a significant step towards inculcating the culture of road safety ownership and accountability amongst road authorities, by ensuring that a standard guideline is available for consistent undertaking of Road Safety Audits. Road Safety Audits and the associated training of the Audit Engineers not only addresses the need to conduct Road Safety Impacts of new infrastructure projects, but also trains Engineers to incorporate road safety in all aspects of infrastructure maintenance and provision. This is seen as a significant road safety capacity development. The Department through its entity SANRAL has developed and implemented accredited 5-day Road Safety Audit Courses across the country, and have trained approximately 200 Road Safety Auditors to date. Efforts are underway to make it mandatory for road authorities to report on an annual basis on the status of road safety of their respective road networks, and this must be done in accordance with the Road Safety Audit Manual.

Various Road Authorities have hazardous location programmes for example has a pedestrian hazardous location programme which has a minimum target of identifying, investigating and implementing remedial measures.

The National Department of Transport is collaborating with Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in implementing safer roads particularly around schools and build-up areas and private sectors.

3.6 Research and Development

There are various research programmes underway to better understand specific road safety issues facing South African. The country works close with some of the research bodies such as CSIR, Department of Health, Department of Basic Education and SABS. Together with the Department of Basic Education we have introduced a new generation of drivers through the use of a Learner Licence. Regular regional and national road safety workshops, seminars and conferences are convened to share best practice case studies with other road authorities and road safety practitioners. It is important to continue to elevate the role that infrastructure can play reducing the risk of a serious injury or death when a crash does occur.


4.1 Vehicle Safety Regulations


SADC Standards have been developed in line with South African Standards. Member states are encouraged to streamline and develop national legislative frameworks that should allow for the incorporation of harmonised motor vehicle Standards into their national legislation. South Africa is a contracting party to WP29 and has been requested by the UN, as a role player in the SADC region, to encourage SADC counterparts to attend WP29 as individual states or as a regional body. SABS has published a large number of standards in conjunction with the UN ECE, many of which are called up in our legislation – see Annexure D.

4.2 Vehicle Requirements and Standards

It is a requirement that new vehicles entering the SA market comply with seatbelts and anchorage requirements as well as specific crash test requirements, including other safety related aspects. The development of the relevant standards takes place in conjunction with NAAMSA and the NRCS. South Africa is noting the progress of the UN regulations on intelligent transport systems that enhance vehicle safety.

4.3 New Car Safety Assessment Programme

New vehicles entering SA must comply with the South African compulsory specification for motor vehicles. These specifications are based on UN regulations and are revised as and when necessary. New vehicles entering the SA market are inherently safe, further advancement in safety could be mandated through internal policies and procedures.

4.4 Encourage universal deployment of crash avoidance technologies

The South African compulsory motor vehicle specifications are in the process of being revised to include various advanced safety requirements which will be implemented in 2016. South Africa leads the world in the fitment of retro-reflective contour marking for vehicles.

4.5 Fiscal and other incentives for motor vehicle

South Africa in consideration of safety features, has barred the importation of used vehicles with the view to maintain UN safety standards.


5.1 Road Safety Awareness on Risk Factors and Prevention Measures

5.1.1 Prevention Interventions

Over the years South Africa has implemented several programmes that support or focus on the reduction of road safety risk factors, namely but not limited to:

  1. The Railway Level Crossing Unit: The aim of the programme is to ensure safety at railway level crossings. The implementation resulted in the establishment of such level crossing units in high incident zones across 3 provinces, in collaboration with Transnet.
  2. Enhancement of compliance: The introduction of the AARTO Act that promotes road traffic quality by providing for a scheme to discourage road traffic contraventions and to facilitate the adjudication of road traffic infringements.
  3. Strategic Law Enforcement: The National Rolling Enforcement Plan is a consolidated programme by the Traffic Authorities throughout the country and offers a centralised reporting and monitoring framework.
  4. Fighting Fraud and Corruption: The establishment of the National Traffic Anti-Fraud and Corruption Unit within the RTMC to combat acts of fraud and corruption by collaborating with other law enforcement agencies has resulted in several prosecutions for unlawful acts across the traffic environment.
  5. Law Enforcement in SADC: The Cross Border Road Transport Agency is mandated to facilitate unimpeded movement of passengers and goods within the SADC region. Since 2013 the Agency has hosted several member states as part of its exchange programmes trail some of which are Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland and Mozambique. In all these activities the Agency sponsored solid support in both regional and national road safety programmes.

5.1.2 Road Safety Educational Awareness Programs and Campaigns

The achievements of road safety awareness campaigns is informed by an integrated and intensified approach to road safety awareness activities targeting cyclists, pedestrians, passengers and drivers through the pooling of traffic management resources across the various levels of Government through the implementation of the 365 day road safety programme. The following awareness campaigns were undertaken:

  1. Child Restraint Campaign: It aims at educating communities on the child restrain regulation and child car seats are being distributed in strategic areas.
  2. The “Get there. No Regrets” Campaign: it was a multi-pronged media campaign targeting different road users.
  3. Cheki-iCoast: An imaginative campaign to promote roads safety among younger audiences on campuses and schools

5.1.3 Road Safety Educational Programmes

  1. Junior Traffic Training Centres/Mats Programme: aims to teach and instil safer road conduct to children in a safer, miniature simulated road environment.
  2. Scholar Patrol: The programme is one of the longest existing road safety projects and it ensures the safe crossing of learners to and from school by learners under adult supervision. The number of scholar patrols operational nationwide are 1480.
  3. Safe Kids Walk this Way: Project creates a safe environment for kids to operate in thereby contributing to the reduction in pedestrian fatalities and injuries. This project has been rolled out in all Provinces.
  4. Road Safety Schools Debates: The programme is directed at secondary / high school learners in grades 10 and 11 and is conducted in line with the World Schools Style of Debating adapted for the purposes of imparting road safety knowledge amongst peers.
  5. Participatory Educational Techniques (P.E.T) Programme: The program is aimed at encouraging high school learners to identify road safety challenges in their communities and being part of developing and implementing sustainable solutions that will positively contribute to safer road users and roads.
  6. Professional Drivers’ Awareness: The programme assesses the road safety competencies (skills and knowledge) of heavy vehicle drivers. South Africa is a member of the Union Internationale des Chauffeurs Routiers (UICR) a world body which coordinates the interest of professional drivers worldwide.
  7. Road Safety Education in Curriculum: The back to basics approach of government to inculcate a culture of road safety at a young age has resulted in the mandatory implementation of road safety at primary schools as part of life skills.
  8. Scholar Transport: The programme aims at addressing the problem of scholar transport safety, the implementation of the Shova Kalula programme is part of a low cost mobility solution to improve rural accessibility and urban mobility “by cycling” to basic services including educational centres. It is directed to learners who walk more than 3 up to 5km to schools, youth and farm labourers.
  9. Cross-Alive Road Safety Programme: The aim of the programme is to address challenges such as:
    1. Safety of scholar transport
    2. Cycling and helmets
    3. Child restraint and safety belts
    4. Distracted walking

5.2 Set and seek compliance with speed limits

The deployment of Average Speed over Distance (ASOD) on approximately 700 km of National and Provincial Routes, namely N3, N1, N2, R27 and R61.

5.3 Set and seek compliance with drink-driving

Review of standardisation in relation to equipment used in the ascertaining and prosecution of alcohol contents in the driver blood specimen

5.4 Set and Seek compliance with child restraint and seatbelts

Regulations were amended to require a driver of a motor vehicle operated on a public road to ensure that an infant traveling in such a motor vehicle is seated on an appropriate child restraint.

5.5 Set and Seek compliance with standards and rules for motorcycle helmets

The country has a legislation that prescribes minimum standards for wearing helmets on motorcycles and bicycles.

5.6 Set and Seek compliance with Transport, occupational health and safety laws

Requirements were set that require that public transport be fitted with speed governors, to ensure that the set speed is not exceeded.

5.7 Establishment of Graduated Driver Licensing

A learner license programme has been implemented targeting Grade 12 and Final year tertiary students. This programme provides learners and youth with theoretical and practical knowledge, based on the rules of the road. It is a computer-based programme that also uses simulators for practical driving lessons.


6.1 Pre Hospital Care

The country’s post-crash care programme including the pre-hospital care systems place an emphasis on pre-empting and prevention of road fatalities and disabilities. The entity of the Department, the Road Accident Fund is mandated to provide cover to all road users within the borders of South Africa. A single medical tariff under the Road Accident Fund (RAF) ensures equitable access to emergency medical treatment as per set tariff to all victims of crashes. The Department is working through RAF to secure a single emergency hotline, in partnership with the South African Private Ambulance Emergency Services Association (SAPAESA).

  • Foster partnerships with public and private healthcare sector – ongoing
  • The Department of Health has engaged with the Department of Communication into the single nationwide telephone number – redirected to the Department of Telecommunications

6.2 Hospital Trauma Care Systems

Through the RAF Act, government’s crash care system starts from providing emergency care cover from the scene of the crash, transportation to hospital, the cost for hospital treatment, as well as victim reintegration and rehabilitation as part of the post recovery treatment interventions. South Africa’s public and private healthcare services provides for a hospital trauma care through the hospital emergency centres. Following a crash and the related trauma, the Department with its entity RAF, through the healthcare sector provides post-crash response as follows:

  • Immediate phase: Emergency medical care
  • Therapeutic phase: Medical care to treat and stabilise
  • Rehabilitation phase: Medical and non-medical assistance and support

RAF in collaboration with civil society identifies hospitals with poor trauma care units and systems with the objective of providing funding to improve conditions of care in the SA trauma units.

6.3 Rehabilitation Programme

The Department through RAF provides a compulsory cover to all road crash victims for medical, loss of support, loss of income, general damages and funeral costs. This helps provide a social and economic safety net for road crash victims and their families who are in need of rehabilitation, trauma care, and psychological counselling. The Department through RAF further provides for social reintegration of road crash victims through dedicated case management, home-based care, counselling as well as provide for past, current, and future medical undertaking expenses.

6.4 Introduction of Road User Insurance Schemes

South Africa as a country doesn’t have a compulsory third party insurance cover for road users. The South African Insurance Association is currently in pursuit of government approval towards legislating a compulsory third party cover for road users.

6.5 Crash Investigation Management and Claims Settlement

The RAF is mandated to identify the wrongdoer through a fault-based road accident compensation system aimed at compensating road crash deaths and injuries. The country currently uses a fault-based system to compensate for road crash victims. The RAF uphold an objective determination of the claim through courts and provision of medical cover and legal experts in terms of the RSA constitution everyone has the right to a lawyer and a free and fair hearing through the Legal Aid Board and SA court system. The country is investing in capacity building within the traffic environment by training on crash investigation and management of dangerous goods. All major crashes as per the set out criteria are investigated to determine cause and prevention of these crashes as well as the monitoring of the implementation of the recommendations.

6.6 Employment of People with disabilities

South Africa through the National Department of Labour, champions various legislation pertaining to the employment of people with disabilities. These legislations include the Employment Equity Act, which in turn, falls within the domain of the Labour Relations Act and the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA). Chapter 2 of the RSA Constitution provides that there should be no discrimination of the basis of disability, gender, race and age.

6.7 Research and Development

Investment in research remains a focal point to ensure effective and efficient utilisation of the resources of existing institutes and research bodies. The establishment of relationships with research bodies and the academia to has resulted in the formation of various relationships with medical and specialist organisations focusing on rehabilitating victims of road trauma. The 2014/15 financial year saw government, through the Road Accident Fund, partnering with the South African Spinal Injury Association with the aim of encouraging and contributing to resourcing research and development aimed at improving the treatment of spinal injuries.

6.8 Incident Response

The entire national road network has incident management systems in place to ensure the optimal coordinated response to incidents. Initiatives are under way to legislate and roll out incident management systems on all major routes in South Africa, including an expanded network. The Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) is being used to manage freeway operations. Freeway Management Systems (FMS) have already been deployed in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape and are being expanded and enhanced to ensure an even more efficient and coordinated response to incidents.


The Department created a mass community movement of road safety activism known as the Road Safety Community Councils which was officially launched at a national level in 2010. These are ordinary community members who are extraordinary and committed to working with government very closely at the provincial level advocating for safety on the roads and proclaiming a ZERO-tolerance message. They are often the first to arrive at any scene of a crash happening in the townships (residential areas). The Department facilitated training for all these men and women of the Community Councils so that they are empowered and knowledgeable about what to do first at the scene of a crash while waiting for the traffic officers and emergency services. The Department through its entity the RTIA further established the inter-faith based organisation which consists of all faith based groups. Similarly, they too, preach the gospel according to road safety on weekly basis and mobilise on an ongoing basis in their respective denominations seeking to convert the attitude of their very own in so far as road safety is concerned.

The Department through its one form of public transport known as taxis under SANTACO, organised a special program called HLOKOMELA whose target audience are its very own taxi commuters and the drivers as well as the operators. This program reminds the operators and drivers about the importance of self-regulation, and to apply all the rules of the road. The passengers also are advised to stay alert during the trip to avoid crashes as a result of fatigued drivers.

As a result of the Road Safety Summit conducted in 2013 in June 2015 the Department established the Road Safety Advisory Council. This is a special Advisory body that consists of few members most of whom have a high social standing. The Advisory Council members are representing different sectors such as business sector, academic sector, youth sector, engineering sector and so forth. The Advisory Council will be advising the Ministry of Transport on additional techniques and mechanisms to employ from time to time to combat road carnage.

The Department through its entity the RTMC has also appointed a number of soccer stars and celebrities such as local TV stars to serve as road safety ambassadors. These personalities have a huge following ranging from youth to pensioners and are opinionated. What they say largely influence the behaviour of people in general and more of what they will be communicating going forward is road safety. There are also various well known musicians that have joined force with the Department in putting a stop to the high road carnage. Lastly, as a country we believe that road safety is what you do with the people not what you do for the people.


South Africa is aware that there is still a lot of work to be done to reduce not only the crash and fatality rates in terms of road traffic deaths per population, or deaths per the number of registered vehicles or the distance travelled, but also in terms of real straight figures.

Road crashes are amongst the main causes of death in South Africa. They have serious ramifications to the economy; the emergency and health cost along with lost economic output is significant. The estimated cost of road crashes is estimated at billions of rands per annum.

Our continued commitment to the reduction of road fatalities by 50% as outlined in the Decade of Action for road safety will see a drastic shift in the implementation of various provisions and models for the acceleration and implementation of sustainable road safety programmes.

Key to these is an increase in educational road safety programmes to ensure our road users know how to stay safe, and keep others around them safe mainly the changed behaviour and attitudes of our road users and that will be supported by intensified law enforcement to deal with those who put other road user lives in danger. Eventually, we want to see a culture of voluntary compliance in South Africa and we will get there.

As a recommendation going forward post 2015, the multidisciplinary approach will be undertaken in order to create a safer road environment by fostering partnerships and increasing the participation of all strata of society to enable the drastic reduction in the number of road fatalities. Road safety is in every citizen’s interest and given that safety starts with an individual road user itself, whether motorist, passenger or pedestrian, the involvement of the entire civil society on an on-going basis can never be overstated. The fight against road crashes is yet to be won, and we envision a future where our people feel safe and secure on our roads.

Also View

Dacade of Action for Road Safety

Arrive Alive Online Infographic 2015

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