Chapter 8 - Conclusions and Recommendations
The objective of this study was to analyse existing data and information
on the road safety situation in Sub-Saharan Africa in order to identify the
data gaps and priority needs. Based on the poor response received from an earlier
survey distributed by the ECA, a shorter survey (restricted to crash data only)
was sent to each of the 42 countries. Unfortunately, this too had a low response
with less than 20 per cent providing the data requested. Accordingly, the data
analysis was based on published sources such as the IRF statistics, and data
identified in the literature review and project reports.
The calculations for the current estimate of the road fatalities
in Sub-Saharan Africa are shown in Chapter 3. Between 68 and 82 thousand lives
are estimated to be lost in road crashes in Africa in 2000. After adjusting
for reporting definitions (+15%) and under-reporting (+25-+50%), this estimate
is 40-65 per cent higher than that officially reported by the countries. The
use of official road crash casualty statistics thus underestimates the true
extent of the health burden, especially that of injuries, of which only a fraction
are believed to be reported by the police.
Africa as a whole was found to have about 10 per cent of global
road deaths in 1999 but contained only 4 per cent of global motor vehicles.
Fatality rates (expressed as annual road deaths per 10,000 vehicles licensed)
in a number of African countries are amongst the world's highest with some (Tanzania,
Ethiopia, Uganda, Malawi and Ghana) in excess of 100. (In comparison, fatality
rates in OECD countries are of the order of 1.5-4.5 road deaths per 10,000 licensed
vehicles per annum).
The average growth in road deaths over the period 1985/86 to 1995/96
(excluding the two dominant countries of Nigeria and South Africa) was found
to be over 40 per cent indicating the continued increase in road deaths over
time. In comparison, road fatalities in Western Europe and North America fell
over the same time period by about 20 per cent.
In the absence of a detailed sectoral review and few questionnaires
completed by respondents, the amount of detailed information on road crash patterns
available in the review was clearly limited. Nevertheless enough information
was available to identify a number of key issues relating to different classes
of road users.
An analysis of crash patterns showed that pedestrians are the
largest category of road users involved in six out of the eight countries for
which detailed information was available. In five of the countries, vulnerable
road users (i.e. pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists) accounted for over
50 per cent of all persons killed (the equivalent value in USA, Germany and
France for example is about 13 per cent). As might be expected, pedestrian involvement
is even greater in urban areas. Thus in Addis Ababa for example over 85 per
cent of both fatalities and casualties were pedestrians.
Results of the analysis of types of vehicles involved in crashes
showed that the involvement rate of buses was, in some countries, almost four
times that of their fleet share. Thus in Kenya, for example almost 30 per cent
of all crashes involved a bus or minibus whilst the equivalent value in most
Western countries is less than 2 per cent. Research on public transport safety
undertaken by TRL has shown that public transport vehicles in Africa (and Asian)
countries are frequently poorly maintained, often overloaded whilst the drivers
themselves receive inadequate training. Public transport in many African cities
is provided not only by the conventional bus but by 'paratransit' vehicles such
as mammy wagons (converted trucks), and Matatu (converted vans etc). Such forms
of public transport are poorly regulated and controlled with many operating
illegally. These vehicles now have a reputation of being particularly dangerous.
It should be noted that the fatality range presented here (68-82
thousand) is less than half that previously predicted by the WHO (WHO, 1998).
Even the higher WHO road fatality estimate was only one-tenth that predicted
for HIV/AIDS and one-fifth that expected to be lost to malaria. Africa's road
safety record is the worst in the world in terms of deaths on a per vehicle
basis, but the region has other much greater causes of premature mortality.
Road safety is unlikely to become a top medical or political priority in Africa
and limited resources can be expected to be available for road safety improvements.
Maximum use should be made of the limited resources and lessons should be shared.
The recommendations listed below pertain to the perceived priority areas where
needs are greatest and opportunities are being missed.
As mentioned previously, this study was the first comprehensive
review of road safety in Sub-Saharan Africa. It was primarily a desk exercise
whereas other regional reviews of the Asia-pacific region, Eastern Europe and
Latin America-Caribbean included country visits with local data collection a
priority. In order to have a better understanding of the current constraints
and capabilities within Africa, consideration should be given to the following:
- A sectoral needs analysis should
be undertaken by local counterparts in Sub-Saharan Africa. Standardised sector
surveys should be developed by a coordinating organisation who will oversee
the data collection and be responsible for the data analysis. This approach
would provide a much better understanding of local needs and priorities which
could be used for guiding future technical assistance. The recommended needs
analysis should cover all key road safety related sectors including crash
data systems, traffic law enforcement and regulations, road safety engineering,
road safety coordination and funding, driver training and testing, vehicle
testing, traffic safety education and publicity, motor insurance system, and
The situational analysis has been limited by the data available. The crash
data survey response was very low and the summary presented here was collected
from published reports and donor projects. This problem is not unique to Africa
and plagued the previous regional reviews. The establishment of a regional centre
for crash data is a frequent recommendation in cases such as this, where data
is difficult to obtain. Intended to raise the status of crash data, this step
is not believed to address the key problems, which include insufficient location
details and lack of application. Priority instead should be given to the following:
- Crash location details should be standardised and monitored. Road authorities
should provide traffic police with road maps, including strip maps from rehabilitation
projects, to help document locations. The coding of locations and subsequent
identification of hazardous locations should be one of the first objectives
of a crash data system.
- Joint training of police and engineers should improve the understanding
of their roles and the development of crash data transferral procedures (from
police to road authorities) should be included in any crash data system upgrading.
The road authorities should be involved in the improvement of crash data reporting
as they are expected to be the main users. The end objective is the application
of crash data and not just its computerisation.
- Examples of best practice would help others understand what is involved
and how it can be achieved. Case studies of successful systems should be documented
and shared with other countries.
- Regional databases should be considered after the crash data has received
more priority at the national and local level and the data quality has improved
from local usage.
- Investment in hospital reporting systems would produce better estimates
of the number being injured in road crashes.
The World Bank led Road Maintenance Initiative (RMI) in Africa
resulted in countries adopting a coordinated approach to donor financing of
road rehabilitation projects while increasing their self-financing capability
through the use of a fuel levy. Road Fund Boards were established with private
sector participation. Road safety appears to have been bypassed in this process
with only one of the five Road Funds even mentioning safety measures (Ethiopia).
While environmental impact assessments and relocation policies have been addressed,
road safety concerns have too often been forgotten. This is partially due to
a short term focus on maintenance needs by the highway authorities and a multi-sectoral
approach to road safety which has focused on the linkages between the sectors
instead of highlighting the individual sectoral responsibility. Accordingly,
it is proposed that:
- All Road Sector Development Programmes should reconsider the need for
incorporating a traffic safety policy which would ensure a minimum standard
of road safety in all road projects. An example of a model traffic safety
policy is shown in Table 7.1.
As noted previously, many African countries are currently undertaking
national road rehabilitation and maintenance programmes. This is a prime opportunity
to review and improve the road safety situation of the national and regional
highways. At present, road safety is assumed to be addressed through adherence
to geometric design standards and few road safety audits are being conducted.
Safety audits are needed as they consider the safety of all road users (including
- Safety audits should be a basic requirement of all major road rehabilitation
projects with donor-financed projects containing demonstration audits and
training programme on road safety audits.
- Lessons learned from safety audits and any resulting changes should
be centrally coordinated and shared with other countries in the region. This
should be initiated by the donors who should request copies of all references
and materials produced be shared with neighbouring countries.
- Road safety engineering recommendations from national road safety plans
should be integrated into the existing road authorities' 5 year plan and work
programmes. Road safety engineering funding requirements should be integrated
into road authorities planning and budgeting process.
- Road safety engineering unit guidelines (suggested organisational structure,
work programme, job descriptions, training progammes) should be developed
as a key reference for the Institutional Strengthening projects which have
often neglected safety in the past.
Whereas road maintenance has benefited from the use of dedicated
user charges, i.e. fuel levies, funding for road safety interventions has been
limited primarily to general revenue and donor assistance. User charges for
safety programmes need to also be considered. A safety surcharge on motor vehicle
insurance premiums, has been considered by several countries and is believed
to be in place in Mali. The advantages of this approach are limited by the low
insurance compliance found in many countries. South Africa and a few other African
countries have avoided this problem by collecting third party insurance through
the fuel levy. A simple proposal - in terms of practical application but not
necessarily political or public acceptability-would be to increase the fuel
levy to provide a dedicated road safety source of funding. As the existing road
funds have been designed with maintenance needs in mind and not road safety,
this could involve an actual increase in the fuel levy, as opposed to a share
of any existing road fund revenue.
- More priority should be given to financing road safety measures from
user charges and that the most practical and appropriate measure would be
to apply, (if not increase) fuel levy to pay for road safety interventions.
- User charges should also be considered as means of paying for safety
measures in other sectors, such as a safety levy on a driving license to pay
for more or better trained driving examiners.
Experience from both higher income countries as well as Africa
has shown 'top-down' approaches to have limited effect and lack sustainability.
Local participation is required to maintain political support as well as ensure
the approach adopted, both in terms of problem analysis as well as remedial
measure identification, is appropriate and compatible with local priorities.
- Community participation should be a basic component of any road safety
programme, with involvement of both service organisations, NGOs, CBOs and
the business community a priority. Local road safety initiatives should be
incorporated in national road safety programmes with bottom-up efforts co-inciding
instead of following national level action.
- Priority should be given to sharing the experience gained from community
traffic safety programmes in motorised countries, including the USA, Australia,
New Zealand and Norway.
- Road rehabilitation projects should include publicity campaigns in villages
adversely affected by road improvements with the local community involved
in both the identification of the problem and the development of the remedial
As highlighted by the earlier review of WHO figures, there are
many other causes of death (HIV/AIDS, malaria, etc) which will rightfully absorb
the health sector's attention. The health impact of road crashes will be overshadowed
by other causes of death, especially at the national level. Whether it is injury
prevention or AIDS related, partnerships with similar causes which require changes
in behaviour and social responsibility should be sought. This wider approach
has already begun in South Africa where CSIR have a safety education unit (instead
of traffic safety). The WHO's recent initiative applies to all trauma victims
with the Addis Ababa Emergency Medical Services Committee campaigning for increased
trauma management skills and resources not only for road casualties but also
for other trauma victims, such as from natural disasters such as earthquakes
- Collaborations should be promoted between road safety initiatives and
other health organisations and advocacy groups, ie. HIV/AIDS, trauma services,
AIDS, community policing, urban development. Traffic safety education should
be designed to complement awareness programmes on HIV/AIDS, as the overwhelming
scale of the latter must take priority.
With limited resources available, it is easy to appreciate the
need for proof of effectiveness and efficiency. Yet few evaluations were identified
and the focus was on casualty reduction. The lack of complete and accurate crash
data will handicap the use of casualty/crash reduction targets. Casualty reduction
targets are also criticised for not adequately reflecting risk, as roads which
are perceived to be dangerous may discourage use but this will not be reflected
in the crash record. At this stage, skills and systems need to be introduced
and implemented before any impacts will be seen and post-evaluations, which
should be standard features of any project, should measure the change in capability,
if not the impact on casualty levels.
- Performance targets should be identified and agreed within each sector
as proxies for effectiveness In many cases, casualty reduction targets will
be premature given the uncertainty of the casualty data.
The literature review confirmed two suspicions: information on
road safety practices/situation could not be found for many African countries,
and secondly, where information was found, it was often contained in unpublished
project reports from donor assisted projects. The latter has a very limited
circulation list and the information collected is not being used to its full
potential (both inside and outside the country). Reports are often shared on
an informal basis by interested parties trying to build on previous work, instead
of "re-inventing the wheel". With the move towards a global approach
to road safety as seen by the establishment of the GSRP, it is recommended that
- All donors agree to share their work and make project documents available
to other donors and those organisations concerned with the promotion of road
safety. Priority should be given to publishing recent project reports to allow
greater dissemination and use whereas future reports should expect to be on
- There should be a central coordinating referral body identified for
each country and one worldwide, preferably the GRSP. Inside a country, one
organisation should have a copy of all road safety reports and within GRSP,
all donor financed projects should provide abstracts if not copies of their
reports in electronic format. Full copies of reports should be able to be
downloaded from either donor websites or the GRSP website.
- Consideration be given to converting the literature review contained
in Technical Appendix C into a database with a standardised format so that
additional references can be added. The African road safety literature database
should be accessible via the internet (possibly GRSP or VTI's RETSNET) and
updated on a regular basis.
As a general observation it can be said that pedestrians are the
neglected road users throughout much of Africa. Relatively few pedestrian crossing
facilities exist in most major cities such as foot bridges, under passes, signal
controlled crossings etc. Features that assist pedestrian safety, for example,
guard rails or central reservations are also infrequently used. Many African
countries are also characterized by quite heavy pedestrian activity along rural
roads as people move from village to village but most people are obliged to
walk in the road itself as few sidewalks or even paths are made available for
It has been the general experience of high income countries to
overlook the safety of vulnerable road users during motorisation. Greater priority
has begun to be given to the vulnerable modes of cycling and walking in motorised
countries in recent years but the focus at present in low income countries is
on vehicle operating costs and the efficiency of motorised transport.
- Vulnerable road user safety should be a priority area, and pedestrian
safety in particular. Training programmes should be undertaken to raise the
awareness with engineers and police. Greater use should be made of CSIR's
experience in pedestrian safety and consideration given to conducting regional
training programme of CSIR's pedestrian facilities management and traffic
calming courses. Donor funded road projects should specify vulnerable road
user safety to be addressed.
- Programmes and measures intended to promote vulnerable road user safety
in motorised countries should be publicised in low income countries, i.e.
speed reduction zones, traffic calming, home zones.
With such low motorisation in the region and the reliance of freight
and passenger transport on road, the priority should be on reducing the crash
risk of professional drivers and commercial vehicles. Results of the analysis
of types of vehicles involved in crashes showed that the involvement rate of
buses was, in some countries, almost four times that of their fleet share. Much
needs to be done to improve public transport safety in most countries of Africa,
including improved vehicle condition and maintenance, greater central or local
government control and perhaps above all, improved driver behaviour. Research
on public transport safety undertaken by TRL has shown that public transport
vehicles in Africa (and Asian) countries are frequently poorly maintained, often
overloaded whilst the drivers themselves receive inadequate training. Action
has begun in several countries, including South Africa which has targeted minibus
and taxi driving and Zimbabwe which is believed to require defensive driver
training for all its public service vehicle drivers.
- Driver training and testing improvements and initiatives should target
professional drivers. These should include extended on road tests with hazard
perception checks, and defensive driver training. Refresher training should
also be promoted along with close monitoring of drivers working conditions
and crash involvement.
- Driver training and risk management programmes should be proposed as
a priority area for the newly established GRSP. Good practice code of risk
management for fleet operators should be published.