Statistically you are more likely to die on South African roads in your home province, or during December, or if you are a man, or aged between 35 and 49.  The least number of fatal accidents usually occur during January and February. Yesterday Statistics SA’s Tapiwa Jhamba told a Boksburg conference that the death rate from road traffic accidents in South Africa had risen between 2001 and 2006.

This followed the release yesterday by Stats SA of its report entitled “Road traffic accident deaths in South Africa, 2001 to 2006”. The report analysed road traffic accident deaths based on the cause-of-death data on death notification forms. A total of 28 890 people died on the roads in those six years. These road deaths were about 9 percent of all the non-natural deaths, which in turn were about 10 percent of all 3 280 931 deaths in those years, the report said.

It said the South African traffic deaths were “about double” the global rate for both men and women. According to the report, in 2001 about 10 people per 100 000 died in accidents, but by 2006 this had increased to nearly 12. There was a slight drop in deaths in 2002, but every year after that there was an increase. Men are more likely to die than women. “For every 100 recorded female deaths due to transport accidents, there were 266 male deaths,” said Jhamba.

Most of those who died – 83 percent – died in their home provinces. The deadliest month is usually December, while January and February are the least fatal. Most of the deaths were among people aged 35 to 49 and the lowest number of deaths among those under the age of 15. Limpopo had the highest death rate of 20,5 people per 100 000 people, followed by the Eastern Cape (15) and Northern Cape (14,8). Gauteng had the lowest death rate at 5,5.

“The high burden of traffic injury mortality in South Africa has been attributed to unsafe road environments, poor enforcement of existing traffic laws, road rage and aggressive driving, as well as alcohol misuse,” said Jhamba. He recommended focused research on risk factors to provide information for policies and interventions, better co-ordination of road traffic accident death information systems, and better certification of the causes of death.