Chapter 7 - Literature Review Summary

Chapter 7 - Literature Review Summary

The African road safety literature review is presented in Appendix C. The review has been organised by main sector with South African references presented at the end of each section. Two points should be highlighted with regard to the literature review:

  • Apart from a few published papers, many of the references were conference papers or project reports, the latter largely unpublished but containing the most information on current operational practices.
  • Road safety references identified were primarily limited to a few countries and sources. South Africa produced the vast majority of the literature pertaining to road safety and while references were obtained from several other countries, especially the Eastern and Southern African countries, very few references were found from Central or West Africa, despite the literature search being conducted in French as well as English.(Several West African road safety references were in fact excluded as they are now about 15 years old.)

Key findings from the literature review are summarised below but first the development initiatives deserve to be highlighted, as they often provided the funding for the road safety initiatives.

7.1 Development initiatives

While this may be the first study that reviews road safety in all of Sub-Saharan Africa, both bi-lateral and multi-lateral investment in road safety in Africa has been ongoing for about twenty years. The United Kingdom's Department for International Development (previously the Overseas Development Association) has funded the introduction of the computerised crash data system (MAAP) in several countries, the development of road safety educational materials in Ghana, and has recently sponsored research into the under-reporting of road casualties in Zimbabwe and the effect of geometric design on crash rates in Tanzania and Zimbabwe. All DFID funded road improvement projects include road safety components and a police training project in Zimbabwe has included crash investigation and reporting.

Sweden's International Development Agency (SIDA) has also been a key donor of road safety projects in Africa and has regularly sponsored training courses in traffic safety management. The demand for training encouraged VTI to seek new ways of training and led to the introduction of Regional Traffic Safety Network (RetsNet), a pilot project in road safety technology transfer in Southern Africa.

Within the region, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Southern African Transport and Communications Commission (SATTC) have targetted driver and vehicle safety through improved testing capabilities. The United Nation's Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has also sponsored research and organised three road safety conferences since 1984. The last of which provided many references for the literature review.

The World Bank has regularly addressed road safety issues in its road rehabilitation projects and its ongoing Sub-Saharan African Transport Programme has highlighted the safety needs of pedestrians and cyclists and produced design guidelines for vulnerable road user facilities. Hazardous locations for pedestrians are also being targetted in Zimbabwe and Burkino Faso and the level of awareness of pedestrian safety is being assessed.

The World Health Organisation is also helping raise awareness of the human burden of road crashes with its Road Injury Prevention Initiative in Africa. It is the only region such a programme is believed to be operating. The monitoring of trauma casualties in hospitals can complement police crash databases which are vulnerable to under-reporting.

The Global Road Safety Partnership, the recent World Bank led initiative promoting increased private sector and civil society participation in improving road safety, is also active in Africa and is looking to establish pilot projects in South Africa, Zambia and Ghana.

7.2 Road safety management

There has been a wide range of road safety management approaches attempted in Africa. National Road Safety Council's (NRSC's) and other similar bodies have existed for decades and have been restructured and updated in several countries, including Zambia and Uganda. South Africa abolished its NRSC in the early 1990's with a move back towards a Directorate of Road Safety. NRSCs appear to be more successful in delivering education and publicity campaigns but not national plans, remedial measures or targeted law enforcement programmes.

Whereas the multi-sectoral organisation, i.e. NRSCs, were intended to gain the participation of all sectors, they may have worked instead to dilute accountability. Action plans and work programmes were often developed by the NRSC or technical advisors, not by the people or the organisations expected to deliver much of the activities. Consequently large parts of the programmes are never implemented and alternative approaches have begun to be considered.

7.3 Funding

While road maintenance has in numerous instances benefited from user fees, road safety remains heavily dependent on government funding and donor assistance. In general revenues from fuel levies and other road related taxes have not been allocated to road safety improvements, even when allowed by Road Fund legislation. There are however, some promising exceptions such as the road safety fund in Botswana and there is evidence, e.g Ghana, Ethiopia, and Zambia, that road funds will be invested in road safety activities in the near future.

7.4 Road safety partnerships and community participation

Partnerships between government, private sector and the community are now being actively promoted by the GRSP in several African countries (South Africa, Zambia, Ghana) and community based organisations are involved in road safety in South Africa and Uganda. It should be noted that many countries in Africa were seen to have a long standing involvement of the community representatives on their national road safety coordinating bodies.

7.5 Crash data system

While many African countries have computerised crash data systems, only a few make maximum use of the data. In most countries the data is not readily available or regularly shared. Few countries are able to accurately record crash locations. South Africa is the only country believed to be introducing a GIS based crash data system but other countries, including Zimbabwe and Botswana, are believed to monitor highway crash locations. Thus in many countries, road engineers are not able to identify where crashes are clustering nor can traffic police target their resources at the most dangerous locations.

7.6 Crash costing

Several countries have estimated the annual total cost of crashes to the country and a wide range of estimates has resulted. Not all cost estimates accommodated for under-reporting and the economic impact is still perceived in terms of the primary victim only and not the family. Crash costs also seem to be only used for publicity purposes and not for the economic justification of safety measures. The great shortage of information on the benefits of road improvements makes it difficult to determine cost benefit relationships for different measures.

7.7 Road safety engineering

Crash prevention involves proper planning and forethought. South Africa was the only country identified to have promoted traffic calming although Zimbabwe has pedestrian precincts and many countries use speed breakers (often demanded or even installed by local residents). Despite the ongoing large-scale donor financed rehabilitation projects in many African countries, safety audits appear to be used in only a few countries, including South Africa and Uganda. While geometric design standards have been updated in many countries, this may well increase the safety of motorised road users but is of less relevance to vulnerable road users (Table 7.1).

Crash reduction programmes are also relatively rare with few countries investing in cost effective remedial works. Road safety improvements have not been adequately included in road maintenance initiatives and the rehabilitated (and hence faster) roads may well be more liable to crashes. A Traffic Safety Policy was proposed for the Ethiopian Road Sector Development Programme to minimise these problems. A model policy is shown in Table 7.1 for consideration in other countries where road safety has lagged behind road maintenance improvements. Road safety also appears to have missed out on the donor financed institutional strengthening projects where the roads authority was reorganised and training programmes established with road safety issues being considered belatedly and peripherally.

7.8 Traffic regulations and law enforcement

While most countries have by now replaced their pre-independence traffic regulations with a more up to date set of regulations, the enforcement of the new regulations has been limited by the lack of resources. Traffic police remain lowly paid and often perform poorly. There have been different approaches to traffic law enforcement with countries such as Nigeria and Zambia recruiting civilians to assist with enforcing traffic regulations while others like Eritrea have the traffic police operating under the Land Transport Department. The general dis-satisfaction with the traffic police is believed to contribute to the reluctance to invest in road safety measures.

7.9 Traffic safety education for children

Much focus has been given, by both national organisations and donors, on instilling safe road use habits in children. Most of the efforts have focused on the formal education system with the development of materials and the inclusion of traffic safety in the school curriculum. Progress has been made in Ghana and the DFID/TRL developed materials are now being expanded to Uganda.

Many children in Africa however, remain outside the formal school system. In Ethiopia, Radda Barnen (Swedish Save the Children) has included traffic safety lessons as part of their proposed syllabus for non-formal education. The Child to Child (CtC) approach, which involves promotes children teaching other children, is used to teach health lessons in several African countries (including Ethiopia, Zambia and Uganda). While there are several CtC road safety activity worksheets, none are believed to have been used in Africa.

7.10 Road safety publicity

Publicity efforts appear to be organised by the NRSC rather than the Ministry of Information or Health who would be more actively involved in public health campaigns. Few publicity campaigns appear to be documented, if conducted, and the evaluation of the effectiveness of the Arrive Alive campaign in South Africa was the only example of where a campaign's impact was evaluated. Other awareness campaigns appear to hold much potential for road safety in Africa, including the Adult Pedestrian Safety Project from South Africa and AIDS intervention programmes from Ethiopia (where transport workers have been targeted). Zimbabwe also conducts a quarterly publicity campaign which is private sector financed and uses advertising agencies.

7.11 Medical services

Trauma and epidemiological studies have documented the incidence of road crashes to be much higher than police statistics show but there are more pressing health problems in Africa. Concern over road crashes can be found with trauma and orthopaedic surgeons in main hospitals but not in Ministries of Health which must deal with childhood mortality, malaria, HIV and other more widespread medical problems.

7.12 Impaired road use

Alcohol and drugs are believed to contribute to many crashes but there is little associated data to corroborate this theory. Blood tests for alcohol are time consuming and rarely conducted. South Africa has begun introducing the Drug Recognition methodology, developed in Los Angeles, which requires no medical tests. Such low-cost measures hold much potential for Africa and should be widely publicised.

7.13 Research

The recent review of road safety in five African countries (Assum, 1998) concluded that research was being conducted but only in a sporadic manner without any programme or coordination. While South Africa has a long established and well respected research organisation which has decades of experience in road safety research, other countries appear unable to maintain a road safety research programme.

DFID has been the leading donor sponsor of road safety research in Africa for the past 25 years with programmes in crash data systems, traffic safety education for children, HGV code, and bus safety. While there have been other research initiatives, like UNECA's research into pedestrian safety, most donor agencies do not fund road safety research.

7.14 Motor vehicle insurance

Almost all African countries require third party motor vehicle insurance coverage (except for Ethiopia and Eritrea) and there has been regional collaboration on introducing a Yellow Card scheme which guarantees insurance coverage while travelling in other countries. The extent to which motor vehicles are insured is not well documented but it is believed to be a major problem in many countries.