The Road Accident Fund (RAF) is well aware that road traffic injuries are a global problem affecting all sectors of society. It also subscribes to the notion that road traffic injuries are a growing public health issue, which disproportionately affects vulnerable groups of road users, including the poor
The greater the number of accidents on South African roads, the greater the liability incurred by the RAF. The RAF, therefore, has a strategic business interest in working together with other stakeholders to prevent the occurrence of road accidents.
The key objectives of the RAF Road Safety Strategy are to reduce the current high rate of road accidents by becoming proactively involved in activities aimed at addressing road safety behaviour and promoting road safety principles and effective law enforcement. The RAF’s Road Safety Strategy also creates a platform to support the RAF core business, since post-crash care is one of the pillars prescribed by the Global Road Safety Commission. It aims to: Increase awareness of the RAF's business and service offering by conducting ongoing campaigns;
Create a platform for all transport industry stakeholders to assist the victims of road accidents and their family members; and
Enhance the overall business strategy by identifying key stakeholder groups and developing effective stakeholder engagement channels to reach target audiences in a proactive manner.
The RAF Road Safety has identified the following road safety pillars:
The RAF has initiated a fatigue management operation which is directed at long-distance drivers. According to the National Road Traffic Report 2011, fatigue is one of the major causes of road crashes. The RAF usually partners with law enforcement and road safety officers to conduct fatigue management operations. Drivers are requested by the traffic police to step out from their vehicles and they are advised about the importance of resting, wearing seatbelts and other road safety tips and are offered refreshments before they continue with their trips. They are, therefore, practically made to rest.
The Department of Health also conducts health screenings of the drivers during this break. The campaign is conducted during the peak holiday season and October Transport Month.
Pedestrians are amongst the most vulnerable road users. The RAF promotes visibility of pedestrians by handing out reflective jackets to learners who walk long distances to school or who are exposed to traffic when leaving for and returning from schools. The purpose of the programme is to promote and enhance visibility of the learners in traffic.
The campaign focuses on vulnerable road users who utilise bicycles to and from work and schools. Helmets and reflective jackets are handed to cyclists at strategic points where there are high traffic volumes. The program is aimed at enhancing the visibility of cyclists and preventing head injuries during collision.
Road safety practitioners and traffic police officers are trained on the RAF Act. This helps to empower them so that they, in turn, are able to guide road users in terms of lodging claims with the RAF. Provinces that have benefitted from the training include North West, KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and Free State.
The RAF is also in ensuring safer roads by providing low cost engineering infrastructure. This is done by identifying road safety problems from road crash reports and/or statistical information and implementating road safety engineering measures to prevent the re-occurence of road crashes in those areas. The RAF has also partnered with SANCO in repairing potholes with the aim of preventing road crashes that might occur as a result of potholes.
According to the study done by the Unisa Research unit, more than 555 children from 0-4 years died on road crashes from 2007 - 2011 in Gauteng province only. Some of these children fatalities are as a result of not using children restraints car seats. This risk of death for infants is reduced by 70% and that for children aged 1 - 4 years by 47 - 54% when they use car restraint seats.
Ejection from a vehicle is one of the most injurious events that can happen to a person in a crash, with 75% of all vehicles occupants ejected from a vehicle in a crash dying as a result.
During the past weeks, the RAF conducted Road Safety Campaigns with special focus on promoting the use of child restraints seats. The child restraints initiative was piloted at Mamelodi Hospital, R101 and Moloto Road respectively. New needy mothers who are in possession of cars were identified and they were provided with the children restraints car seats. During the Road Safety and Law Enforcement Operations, vehicles with children who were without car restraints seats were identifies and were provided with them.
Defensive driving refers to driving in a manner that utilizes safe driving strategies to enable motorists to address identified hazards in a predictable manner. With defensive driving classes, students learn to improve their skills by reducing their driving risks by anticipating situations and making well-informed decisions.
The key to any good defensive driving strategy is to know how to avoid traffic crashes and recognise potential hazards before it's too late.
Defensive training also focuses on how drivers can overcome negative psychological factors such as unneeded stress, fatigue, emotional distress and road rage. They also offer instructions for developing a positive attitude behind the wheel and increasing your focus on the driving task.