Durban – The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) has called on authorities to “step up” drunk driving operations in order to curb the deadly results of driving while under the influence, which is estimated to cost the South African economy R18.2 billion annually.
The organisation said it was making the call following the deaths of five people in a head-on collision in Benoni on Tuesday night. The drivers of both vehicles were suspected of being under the influence of alcohol.
The crash is being investigated by the RTMC, police, and Ekurhuleni metro police.
On Tuesday, the government-imposed alcohol ban was lifted as the country moved to level 2 of its Covid-19 lockdown, with authorities saying they were expecting more alcohol-related crimes as a result.
“Research conducted by the RTMC in collaboration with the South African Medical Research Council and the University of South Africa shows that driver alcohol intoxication accounts for 27.1% of fatal crashes in the country. This is estimated to cost the economy R18.2 billion annually,” said the RTMC via a statement on Wednesday.
“Drunk driving operations should be prioritised during the night, weekends and throughout the year as evidence shows that 55% of fatal crashes happen at night, about three out of five happen over the weekends and 70% happen during non-vacation periods.”
Research further indicated that the risk for crashes involving other road users, such as pedestrians and other motorists, increased significantly when a driver was drunk. Pedestrians were three times more likely to die in a crash where a driver was intoxicated, according to the organisation.
“Compared to speeding and other driver related factors, intoxicated driving has been found to pose a greater risk for light motor vehicle and public transport vehicles than vehicles transporting goods.”