College of Human Sciences

Tackling drunk driving head on

Research conducted by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), in collaboration with the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) and Unisa, shows that driver alcohol intoxication accounts for 27.1% of fatal crashes in the country, a figure considerably higher than current estimates. This is projected to cost the economy R18.2 billion annually.

The study was prepared by Prof Ashley van Niekerk of the Institute for Social and Health Sciences (ISHS) at Unisa; Prof Rajen Govender, Department of Sociology at the University of Cape Town; and Dr Anesh Sukhai, an injury epidemiologist and consultant research and policy analyst from the Western Cape.

The RTMC and the SAMRC-Unisa Violence, Injury and Peace Research Unit (VIPRU) investigated the role of driver alcohol intoxication as a risk factor for fatal road traffic crashes in the country for the period 2016-2018. Research indicates that the risk for crashes involving other road users, such as pedestrians and other motorists, increases significantly when a driver is drunk. Pedestrians are three times as likely to die in a crash where a driver was intoxicated.

Given evidence globally to indicate that driver error may be involved in over 90% of all fatal crashes, it is possible that driver alcohol intoxication is implicated in at least one in four of all fatal crashes in the country, regardless of cause.

Citing this research, Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula said in August that, as indicated by this study and many observations, "we need to strengthen the law and ensure that innocent lives are saved." The Road Traffic Amendment Bill was introduced in parliament in June 2020, with the legislation effectively introducing a 0% alcohol limit for all motorists.

You can read the report here.

* Compiled by Sharon Farrell, Editor, Department of Institutional Advancement

Teaser image sourced from Quote Inspector.

Publish date: 2020/09/16