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News > Road death stats a sham, says lawyer

Road death stats a sham, says lawyer

updated: 06-Jan-10

Johannesburg lawyer Michael de Broglio has accused the Department of Transport of manipulating the December road death statistics, saying that people are continuing to die in increasing numbers on the country’s roads.

On his legal blog (http://www.lawblog.co.za/blog/item/?itemID=489), De Broglio says that the much-trumpeted lower road death toll over the festive season – 1050, compared to 1348 the previous year – is misleading. The reality, he points out, is that instead of a reduction in road deaths, the figure has actually increased compared to the previous year’s statistics.

“In fact, in 11 years the annual road death toll has doubled in South Africa,” he states.

De Broglio – whose law firm, de Broglio Inc, frequently handles Road Accident Fund claims and is well acquainted with road safety issues in the country – claims that the Department of Transport changes the reporting period for December accidents every year.

He further alleges that the department announces and takes credit for an early figure that does not include accidents that have not yet been reported to it by police stations. The figure also does not take into account car crash victims who die in hospital days or weeks after the accidents took place, which De Broglio says would inflate the reported death toll by up to 30%.

To support his contention, he points to the department’s media release issued on 5 January last year (http://www.transport.gov.za/communication_centre_sub.aspx?upd=1&comID=384&ssID=77), which put the official number of festive season road fatalities between 1 December 2008 and 5 January 2009 at 937 – but in its more recent media releases, the department has changed the figure for that period to 1348.

“Now they announce 1050 [deaths] this year [between 1 and 31 December 2009] and that they beat last year’s figure,” says De Broglio in his blog posting. “The stats are a laugh, and when people are dying – and in increasing numbers – it is not a laughing matter.”


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