Durban, KZN, South Africa - Cityscape
Durban, KZN, South Africa - Cityscape Magda Ehlers/

Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga blamed bank loans for the increased vehicle population across the country and said the surge in vehicle population has led to various road safety challenges.

Since 1994, the country has witnessed an increase in road traffic casualties.

Speaking at the launch of the United Nations Global Campaign for Road Safety on Wednesday, the minister said an increase in the number of vehicles has created road safety issues including human factors, environmental factors, engineering and technical factors, law enforcement as well as education and awareness factors.

"From 1994 - 1995, the vehicle population increased by one million, from 5.5 to 6.5 million. Calculating from a period between 1994 and 2022, we moved from 5.5 million to an almost 13 million (12,964,430) vehicle population," he said, SA News reported.

She noted that around 87% of road fatalities in South Africa are due to road user behavior. The minister highlighted that employed youth in the country are the ones who have to deal with road crashes, injuries and fatalities.

The minister also shared that "pedestrian fatalities are the highest segment of victims in the country and young economically active people between the ages of 25 and 39 constitute the majority of those who die on the roads."

Chikunga said in order to address the increased number of casualties on the road, the government developed a multifaceted approach to regulate and lower the number of fatalities on the roads.

The minister shared that certain laws have been implemented already to prevent road safety issues such as blood alcohol content limits, speed limits especially in urban areas and around schools, mandatory seat belt regulations and child restraint use.

"We examined a range of sentencing options for traffic violations, including license suspensions under the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) demerit points system, and – for specific grades of offences – community service sentences and/or mandatory license re-testing," he said.

He added, "We put in place, advance technical norms and standards for road infrastructure and vehicles."

The country did a detailed analysis of road crash patterns from 2018 to 2022 and learned that there has been steady progress from the government's end. However, she pointed out that fast-track progress by intelligently deploying law enforcement is needed.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said last month that the government is working towards providing accessible transportation to all categories of people, including persons with disabilities.