The Medical Research Council says a new study shows that the road death toll in South Africa has been under-estimated. The Department of Transport has a figure of 7 635 for 2000, but the council said it was closer to 18 000.

The Medical Research Council (MRC) says a new study shows that the road death toll in South Africa has been under-estimated. The Department of Transport has a figure of 7 635 for 2000, but the council said it was closer to 18 000.

reported that the MRC said it used various sources, including the National Injury Mortality Surveillance System, a body supported by the departments of health and science and technology, to look at death figures

The MRC said there were differing figures from various departments. The Department of Transport had 7 635 road deaths in 2000, the Department of Home Affairs had a figure of 17 045, while the MRC estimated a figure of 18 443.

The council said the difference between the figures could be because the Department of Transport did not include deaths away from the accident scene.

It "could be that the accident reports on which the department of transport statistics are based include only deaths at the scene of the accident and exclude deaths that occur on the way to hospital or later," the newspaper reported the MRC as saying.

The Automobile Association said it was a huge concern if the MRC figures are correct. Said pokesman Gary Ronald:"It would put us as the number one (road death) country in the world.

"The MRC figure goes against all trends established, going back the last 20 years. It seems too high. Then government is not succeeding in any of its programmes." He said the AA uses government figures and puts the daily road death toll in the country at between 26 and 30.

The Department of Transport’s national standards and guidelines manager, Gerrie Botha, said it had not had figures as high as the MRC estimates and the government’s figures go back to 1930.

The MRC is running a study on why the various departments have differing figures.