Coun­try pay­ing for road car­nage

Cost­ing econ­omy R143bn

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT - Ka­belo Khu­malo

ROAD ac­ci­dents and fa­tal­i­ties in South Africa cost the econ­omy a stag­ger­ing R143 bil­lion in 2015.

This was re­vealed at the 2017 South­ern African Trans­port Con­fer­ence and Ex­hi­bi­tion be­ing held in Pre­to­ria.

Road deaths cost the coun­try’s gross do­mes­tic prod­uct (GDP) 3.4 per­cent, the gath­er­ing heard. Gaut­eng Roads and Trans­port de­part­ment chief en­gi­neer Kobus Labuschagne yes­ter­day said hu­man ca­su­alty costs ac­counted for 69.3 per­cent of the to­tal crash cost, while ve­hi­cle re­pairs ac­counted for 14.9 per­cent and re­lated in­ci­dent costs 15.8 per­cent.

Labuschagne said the cost could be higher as there was gen­eral un­der-re­port­ing of crash ac­ci­dents.

He added it was es­ti­mated that 13 591 peo­ple died on South Africa’s roads in 2015.

“In ad­di­tion, 62 520 peo­ple were se­ri­ously in­jured and a fur­ther 202 509 slightly in­jured,” Labuschagne said. “A fur­ther 1 429 794 per­sons were in­volved in road traf­fic crashes with­out sus­tain­ing any in­juries.”

The Road Ac­ci­dent Fund (RAF) re­ported a 46 per­cent rise in rev­enue to to R33.2 bil­lion for the 2015/16 fi­nan­cial year. The agency said the av­er­age value of claims paid in­creased 24 per­cent from R114 969 to R143 127 in the pe­riod, while claims pro­cess­ing im­proved by 15 per­cent to R32.3bn.

RAF said its own data showed that R1.2bn was paid in med­i­cal costs; R120m spent on fu­neral costs and R6.6bn on le­gal and other ex­pert costs.

It said a fur­ther R8.7bn was paid for gen­eral dam­ages – pri­mar­ily to per­sons not se­ri­ously in­jured, and R16.4bn was paid for loss of earn­ings and sup­port for those who qual­i­fied.

In 2015, the Road Traf­fic Management Cor­po­ra­tion (RTMC) iden­ti­fied the need to re­view and eval­u­ate the cost of crashes (COC) 2004 es­ti­ma­tion of the unit cost of RTCs.

Labuschagne said that re­li­a­bil­ity of the RTC cost­ing sys­tem was de­pen­dent on a con­sis­tent, cred­i­ble, com­pre­hen­sive, and timely crash data­base.

He said this re­quired record­ing of crash data to be con­ducted with dili­gence.

“In the ab­sence of this, strate­gies will have to be de­vel­oped to sim­u­late RTC statis­tics as part of a go-for­ward strat­egy, as was the case with cost of crashes 2016,” he said.

An Au­to­mo­bile As­so­ci­a­tion (AA) study pre­pared by en­gi­neer and roads spe­cial­ist John Samp­son to as­sess the road net­work and main­te­nance cost over the last 20 years found South Africa needed R32bn per an­num to keep roads in good con­di­tion.

In the US, high­way ac­ci­dents alone cost $871bn each year in eco­nomic dam­ages, loss of pro­duc­tiv­ity and other so­cial harm.

Of this to­tal cost, $277bn ac­counts for eco­nomic dam­ages, while $594bn is costs re­lated to cost of so­cial harm.

Labuschagne said that the “to­tal cost of road traf­fic crashes” met­ric is an im­por­tant road safety in­di­ca­tor, and the de­par­ture point for un­der­stand­ing the ex­tent and mag­ni­tude of the road safety prob­lem in a coun­try.

PHOTO: DAVID RITCHIE

De­bris strewn on the road at the scene of an ac­ci­dent on the N2 be­tween Som­er­set West and Cape Town. The large num­ber of road ac­ci­dents are hit­ting the coun­try’s GDP.

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