SA’s speed limits may drop by 10km/h on all roads if the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) has its way.
As part of recommendations to parliament’s portfolio committee on transport this week, the RTMC called for the speed limit on urban roads to be decreased from 60km/h to 50km/h, and on freeways from 120km/h to 110km/h.
The objectives are in line with the UN’s Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030 global road safety partnership, to which SA is a signatory, which aims to reduce the number of road crashes by 50% by 2030. To date there has been little or no progress in reducing the annual 1.35-million road fatalities and 20 to 50-million injuries around the world, and the UN has called on even harsher 30km/h speed restrictions in cities worldwide.
RTMC chief communication officer Simon Zwane said lowered speed limits would help combat fatalities on SA's roads, which are among the highest in the world with about 14,000 deaths a year and cost the economy in excess of R168bn per annum.
SA is listed 13th out of 195 countries by number of road deaths per capita, with 28.2 road deaths per 100,000 population according to a January 2020 study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. This compared with the safest country, Singapore, which recorded 3.53 road deaths per 100,000 people.
The RTMC said speeding was a contributing factor to 24% of fatal crashes in SA, followed by jaywalking pedestrians (23%), overtaking across barrier lines (5%) and turning in front of oncoming traffic (4%).
The transport department has previously considered reviewing speed limits, and in 2019 looked at a blanket speed reduction of as much as 20km/h on all roads.