Research Papers

An assessment of the criminological significance of motor vehicle crash data within the criminal justice context

Version 1
Date added June 30, 2016
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Category 2016 CARSP XXVI Halifax
Tags Research and Evaluation, Session 5A
Author/Auteur Andre Roets
Stream/Volet Research and Evaluation
Slidedeck Presentation Only (no paper submitted)

5A - Roets


Background/Context: South African roads are fast acquiring a reputation as being some of the most dangerous in the world. This unfortunate situation is ascribed to a combination of factors such as poor law enforcement, blatant disregard for the law by drivers and the shocking inept systems that are currently in place when it comes to prosecuting offenders. Existing crash data are of such a sub-standard that traffic professionals will not be able to develop effective and efficient road safety strategies in pursuit of road safety in South Africa.

Aims/Objectives: Explain the significance of crash data in relation to effective road safety management.
Describe the attendance & recording procedure of road crashes in South Africa.
Describe the responsibility of the supervisor in relation to the quality of crash data recorded.
Evaluate the current prosecution procedure of the Criminal Justice System.

Methods/Target Group: A mixed-methods approach was followed, collecting quantitative data from recorded Accident Report Forms and qualitative data from interviews with participants active in their fields of expertise.

Results/Activities: Incorrect statistics are obtained.  The completed Accident Report (AR) Forms are not verified by supervisors.
Law enforcement institutions are unable to institute administrative prosecutions against offending drivers, because of unreliable data.
Law enforcement practitioners neglect their legal duties to institute prosecutions against offending drivers.

The registration of road crashes at outside police stations results in several AR Forms being lost this needs revision.

Discussion/Deliverables: Road safety management is in a state of crisis and the extent of road traffic crashes remains unclear. South Africa has no comprehensive crash statistics available, except for seasonally bound statistics, which indicate fatalities only. The national picture in relation to all categories of traffic crashes, i.e. fatal, serious, and minor and damage only, is unknown and does not depict a true reflection of the actual state of affairs about road traffic crashes in South Africa.

Recorded crash data are of such a sub-standard that administrators are in no position to indicate the true state of road crashes. Supervisors are unaware of the quality of the information recorded on AR Forms because of a lack of proper verification processes in place.
The use of traffic officials as first responders to crash scenes, results in numerous crashes being classified as “serious” and referred to the SAPS for action. There is confusion as to which law enforcement institution should legally attend to and record the crash scene. Law enforcement officers attending crash scenes fail to register the Accident Report (AR) Forms, or delay the registering of the Accident Report (AR) Forms, which is problematic for those involved in the crashes, especially concerning insurance and medical claims.

Conclusions: Road safety management is not negotiable; road traffic administrators have a constitutional mandate to secure and provide a healthy environment for citizens to function in. Practitioners have adopted a lackadaisical approach toward crash attendance and recording. The data recorded from crash scenes are in such a poor state that administrators are in no position to develop and implement proper intervention programmes based on scientific information.

Andre Roets