Crim­i­nals a grave dan­ger on roads

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - ILANIT CHERNICK ilanit.chernick@inl.co.za

IT’S no se­cret that road deaths and crime have es­ca­lated over the past few years and as hol­i­day­mak­ers head home, au­thor­i­ties expect this to in­crease.

How­ever, what many don’t know is how broadly crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity af­fects road safety across the coun­try.

Ac­cord­ing to Ar­rive Alive, crimes that threaten mo­torists’ safety in­clude the ob­vi­ous like hi­jack­ing, theft of ve­hi­cles and smash-and-grabs, but there are less ob­vi­ous crimes af­fect­ing driv­ers daily.

“These in­clude theft of ca­bles which re­duces light­ing on our streets. When street­light ca­bles are stolen it re­duces vis­i­bil­ity and en­dan­gers the lives of driv­ers and pedes­tri­ans,” the or­gan­i­sa­tion said.

Ca­ble theft can cause traf­fic lights at in­ter­sec­tions to mal­func­tion or stop work­ing which can lead to crashes.

Theft of crash bar­ri­ers and man­hole cov­ers sold as scrap metal are cat­a­lysts for se­ri­ous col­li­sions too.

Ar­rive Alive has listed stolen fences, es­pe­cially in ru­ral ar­eas and next to in­for­mal set­tle­ments, as prob­lem­atic be­cause “it cre­ates an in­creased risk of an­i­mals en­ter­ing and cross­ing roads”.

“Stones and other large ob­struc­tions placed on the roads with the in­ten­tion of caus­ing ve­hi­cles to crash and pro­vid­ing an op­por­tu­nity to rob crash vic­tims.

“Stones thrown from cross-over bridges can cause col­li­sions that leave vic­tims de­fence­less and sus­cep­ti­ble to rob­bery,” it said.

Safe driv­ing re­quires re­spon­si­ble shar­ing of the roads with many other road users.

AA said it’s not only law-abid­ing cit­i­zens us­ing lo­cal roads, but also peo­ple com­mit­ting se­ri­ous and vi­o­lent crimes “and less likely to obey the rules of the roads”.

There is a sig­nif­i­cant threat to driv­ers by those who are im­paired or driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence of drugs and al­co­hol while crim­i­nals who use the roads for their ac­tiv­i­ties are a risk to the pub­lic as well.

Ar­rive Alive warned mo­torists against crim­i­nals re­ferred to as the “blue light gangs” who present them­selves as po­lice of­fi­cials only to hi­jack and rob road users.

Crim­i­nals who com­mit crimes else­where and use the roads ir­re­spon­si­bly as an es­cape route in their at­tempt at a fast “get­away” are a se­ri­ous dan­ger to mo­torists while cash-in-tran­sit rob­beries not only en­dan­ger the lives of se­cu­rity guards, but also all those who share the roads with these ve­hi­cles.

“Taxi vi­o­lence and con­flict be­tween taxi as­so­ci­a­tions are plac­ing the lives of both driv­ers and com­muters at risk,” Ar­rive Alive said.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion has ad­vised that mo­torists never as­sume roads will be safe and be ready to ad­just driv­ing be­hav­iour.

Some tips in­clude ap­proach­ing and cross­ing in­ter­sec­tions with cau­tion, stay­ing alert at night to the pos­si­ble pres­ence of an­i­mals on the roads, avoid­ing dis­trac­tions and keep­ing all the fo­cus on the traf­fic and road con­di­tions.

“Jog­gers and run­ners are also ex­posed to crim­i­nal at­tacks and we urge these road users that there is in­deed strength in num­bers,” Ar­rive Alive said.

… they are less likely to obey the rules

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