In July of 2005, the Road Traffic Management Corporation reported that, during the 2003-2004 crash statistics’ reporting period, more people died on South African roads each day (one every 48 minutes) than people were killed in Iraq, an acknowledged war zone.

Historically, bad road conditions have only been responsible for roughly 5% of our accidents; human error, irresponsible and drunken driving have been said to cause far more bodily annihilation than poor road conditions.

The percentage of accidents for which bad road conditions are directly responsible, has leapt through 10% and is heading for 15%, Gary Ronald of the AASA, reported home depot health check. As a result, the AA has begun a campaign to encourage road users to SMS the AA with information about poor road conditions. Potholes, missing traffic signs and flooding are notable concerns.

Theirs is not the only campaign of this nature. Whether they succeed in galvanising municipalities, provinces and highway management consultants into speedier and more competent repair action, is debatable.

The authorities must accept that poor road conditions not only affect crashes, but also cause considerable congestion, poor public-transport access and contribute significantly to the cost of vehicle maintenance. All of which directly affects people in all economic categories; their lives and their deaths.

Strategic objective (Department of Transport’s 2000 – 2005 The Road to Safety document)

In order to realise the mission, an equally clear and simple strategic objective is required. We have set this objective as being:”To reduce crashes, deaths and injuries on South Africa’s roads by 5% year-on-year until the year 2005 – at a saving to the economy of R770 million per annum – and then, based on the strengthened institutional platform created, by at least 10% year-on-year until the year 2009.”The targets have been set in carefully separated stages to take realistic account of the constraints still facing us in the current phase of fundamental restructuring of road traffic safety management. This restructuring work lies at the heart of The Road to Safety.In 2005 we will thoroughly review the emerging statistical trends and, if these trends are as positive as we hope, recommit ourselves to the more ambitious target of 10% (or, if justified by progress, consider setting a higher target).

Hospital parking inevitably gets back to price and the fact that people don’t want to pay at all. Generally, parking should be run in an effective and efficient manner, delivering the benefits of the resources to the most in need, but most hospitals use a mixture of legacy and other local/political influences to come up with a solution… and its generally tailored to the site. Shoup spoke about the benefits of having occupancy of 85% or 1 space in 8 constantly being turned over as being efficient and effective, but being off-street and mostly behind barriers, the occupancy rate can be managed much higher than that. You can then manage supply and demand to get a price. Occupancy and demand drive prices.

If there is one ‘golden rule’ in parking, it is that occupancy is the main parameter that tells you the resource is being used efficiently. Spread the resource through the hierarchy of stakeholders, patients and visitors first and use price to control it. Price must be able to go up and down with occupancy and hospital seasonality. Then the resource will be used as efficiently as you may ever get.

All of these understandings are second nature to a parking professional. I suspect that if you stared to talk about occupancy, average length of stay and an efficient use of parking resource, most hospital staff will look at you strangely. “It’s just parking” they will say as if it is just a Home Depot DIY project. And you will smile back at them with an embarrassed grin, agreeing with them as they are the potential client. We have all done it.

Providing a balanced system that operates a methodology that embraces good principles, provides some solutions for all users, supports the vulnerable, is highly auditable, while connecting with a good technology mix, gives the hospital the best chance of providing a touch point with the patient that will enhance the healing process, in its own small way. And that is a good thing.