A cost effectiveness evaluation of interventions to reduce traffic deaths and injuries in South Africa.
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The global burden of road traffic casualties is estimated at US$5l8 billion in direct economic costs. Road traffic crashes are now preventable and predictable as demonstrated by the existence of many proven and cost effective intervention strategies, a result of three decades of research and development in high income countries. While remarkable progress has been made towards the provision of safe, sustainable and affordable means of transport in high income countries where road traffic deaths are on a declining trend, the global road traffic safety situation is however expected to get worse by 2020, in view of increasing deaths in the low to middle income countries, due to rapid motorization against the background of inadequate road infrastructure with poorly maintained roads, passive traffic law enforcement and corruption, inadequate health services, lack of funds, and inadequate data collection and research. These countries have thus experienced little or no success in resolving the problem of road traffic safety. Since South Africa falls into this latter category, this paper supports the thesis that the issue with road traffic deaths and injuries is a global problem requiring national capacity to be part of a global cooperation and responsibility. Given the recent institutionalized framework for planning, organizing and implementing the strategy for road safety management (the Road to Safety 20012005), the relatively high mortality rate of 27 per 100000 population and the R13.8 billion in direct social costs to the economy, remains the challenge to build a strong political advocacy to enable the achievement of conditions for a sustainable national road safety capacity to manage road traffic safety. This calls for a comprehensive set of cost effective countermeasures. Most country successes have had a good political will complemented by a systems approach. Despite a good start with the Road to Safety 2001-2005, successes and mistakes made in high income countries as well as in low to middle income countries, can benefit South Africa in the design and implementation of a multisectoral national road safety strategy with the health sector playing a major role, in order to achieve significant reductions in road traffic deaths and injuries on our roads.