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largely unpublished but containing the most information on current operational
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.