, JOHANNESBURG, Jan 11 – Fatal road crashes cost South Africa’s economy 309 billion rand ($35.0 billion) each year or the equivalent of 10 percent of gross domestic product, the Transport Minister has revealed.
Accidents blamed mainly on drunk driving and excessive speeding, claimed nearly 1,500 lives in the five weeks from the start of December, according to South African police.
“Road traffic fatalities are amongst the main causes of death in South Africa,” Transport Minister Ben Martins said in a report on festive season road accidents he unveiled on Thursday.
“The economic ramifications include the increase in the social development and health budgets spent. At least 306 billion rand ($36 million; 27 million euro) is lost to the economy due to road fatalities each year.”
About 40 percent of the 1,462 road accident deaths recorded by the police in December and the first week of January, involved pedestrians most of whom jay-walked on the roads while drunk.
On average there are 11,000 deaths on the road each year.
The government in South Africa, which has the biggest economy in Africa, has launched a campaign to slash road crashes by half in the next seven years.