Thursday, March 28, 2013

Safety on the road over Easter, a notorious time for high traffic and road deaths in South Africa, has a lot more to do with people’s attitudes than just getting cars road trip ready. More accidents are the result of speeding and dangerous driving than tyre failure. Over the 2012 Easter weekend, no less than 181 people were killed in road accidents. Speeding, dangerous overtaking, fatigue, and drinking were the four top causes.

“All of these point to a blatant and dangerous disregard for road rules. When you speed, get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol and do as you please on the road, you are no better than the driver at the wheel of a vehicle that’s un-roadworthy or has bald tyres.

“Your bad attitude on the road could get you killed,” says Bradley Du Chenne, Senior Executive of Dial Direct Insurance.

Excessive speed and alcohol are major contributors to road accidents in South Africa. On weekends, 65% of fatal crashes are attributed to alcohol abuse. Du Chenne points out that it’s not just badly behaved drivers who are to blame but pedestrians too. Most pedestrian deaths, which account for about 53% of road deaths, are due to people walking while drunk on alcohol.

Despite stepped-up national and regional efforts to improve road safety through a host of awareness programmes, more road blocks, increased policing and stiffer fines – and South Africa’s commitment to the UN’s Decade of Action for Road Safety, the National Road Safety Strategy and Action Plan, the National Rolling Enforcement Plan and a 10-year road crime crash combating strategy for the Make Roads Safe campaign - the country’s road death tolling is staggeringly high. On a daily basis, 45 people die and 410 are injured, with 25 people becoming paralysed.

At the launch of this year's Easter Holiday Road Safety campaign earlier this month, Transport Minister Ben Dikobe Martins warned that traffic law enforcement officers will be out in full force to examine driver and vehicle safety as well as impound un-roadworthy vehicles. Motorists are also warned that traffic officers would be arresting those motorists who do not adhere to road regulations. The Minister also said that government alone cannot win the war. South Africans need to play their part in making roads safer.

Du Chenne agrees, “Certainly, strict law enforcement and higher penalties for breaking road rules play a role in fixing our road crisis. But, road users themselves have the biggest role to play. While you’re preparing your vehicle for your road-trip over the holidays, make sure to change your attitude as well.”

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