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A query came in yesterday on data sources. As far as I know, this is what’s available for the Western Cape:

The National Government Arrive Alive website has plenty of information, including data breakdowns by province in some cases, but the reporting lacks consistency. The Western Cape Province “Safely Home” Campaign has a live fatality counter and citizen reporting but no aggregate reports for the Western Cape. In theory the City of Cape Town produces an Annual Report on road incidents. In practice the reporting has been “patchy”. The latest Annual Report available on the website is for 2005. Last year, as part of a project for the Cape Town Partnership we managed to access data from the City of Cape Town up to 2011, but this kind of data is not (as far as I am aware) systematically summarised or published anywhere. The data we analysed showed that on average one pedestrian, and two drivers or passengers, will require hospitalisation each week due to a serious traffic incident in the central city of Cape Town. A further 17 will receive slight injuries each week. Data on fatal incidents suggests at least one traffic death per month in the central city. Under-resourced police and traffic services are a block to accurate location, and severity data for traffic crashes.

Perhaps one reason for the sorry state of official reporting at all levels is that the actual data is flawed. Comparing the mortuary data on road traffic death with the police reported data reveals discrepancies, but even that is difficult given the paucity of comparable databases. Up until 2010 The National Injury Mortality Surveillance System gave detail on all fatalities in South Africa. More recent reports focus on Mpumalanga and Gauteng only. Locally we found discrepancies between traffic incidents reported by the Police Service and those recorded by the Pathology Services for central Cape Town.

Some very detailed data on cause of injury is available from the Red Cross Children’s hospital trauma statistics. Finally, the recent Road Safety Seminar hosted by the Global Road Safety Partnership in Cape Town profiled work by many experts and officials who seem to have access to data not in the public domain. The presentations are not online, but they may be persuaded?

I find this lack of consistent and reliable data about loss of precious lives terribly depressing. If, as a society, we measure what matters then clearly those killed on roads don’t matter that much.




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