Situation on South Africa's roads is 'insane', says trauma surgeon

While Transport Minister Blade Nzimande thanked motorists for heeding calls to obey the rules of the road over Easter which resulted in decreased fatalities countrywide this year, the death toll in the Western Cape saw an increase.

The provincial transport department said there was a spike in both passenger and pedestrian deaths.

On Weekend Breakfast, Africa Melane discusses these figures and their causes with Dr Sebastian van As, head of the trauma unit at the Red Cross Children's Hospital in Cape Town.

He says, to reduce the number of pedestrian deaths, both drivers and caregivers must pay more attention to keeping children safe.

If we leave young children, under the age of six, alone in traffic we know they are going to be hit by cars because they cannot yet see the dangers in the environment.

Dr Sebastian van As, Head of trauma unit - Red Cross Children's Hospital

We shouldn't be speeding in areas where there are children - around schools and in suburbs.

Dr Sebastian van As, Head of trauma unit - Red Cross Children's Hospital

With young people, the biggest problem is abusing alcohol.

Many of the pedestrians who die are intoxicated. They're young people, they drink and then they walk home and they're are hit by cars.

Dr Sebastian van As, Head of trauma unit - Red Cross Children's Hospital

Driver distraction due to the use of cellphones is fatal, he says.

The use of cellphones in the car is rampant in South Africa.

Dr Sebastian van As, Head of trauma unit - Red Cross Children's Hospital

Road traffic crashes are already the number one killer of young people in this country. If you use your cellphone that number goes up seven times, if you start sending an sms the number goes up 23 times.

Dr Sebastian van As, Head of trauma unit - Red Cross Children's Hospital

Describing the situation as "insane", he says South African road users have got to take action to reduce the number of road deaths.

It's 47 people on average every single day in the whole country.

Dr Sebastian van As, Head of trauma unit - Red Cross Children's Hospital

For more of this discussion, listen below:


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