Walk­ing dead

‘Teach Gr 1 pupils how to cross the road safely’

The Witness - Wheels - - FRONT PAGE - ALWYN VILJOEN

STA­TIS­TICS from the Road Traf­fic Man­age­ment Cor­po­ra­tion’s 2009 to 2016 road traf­fic re­port cal­en­dars show KwaZu­luNatal and Gaut­eng have the most road deaths in SA, each province con­tribut­ing al­most 20% to the na­tional to­tal.

North­ern Cape (2,9%), Free State (7,0%) and North West (7,7%) had the low­est num­ber of deaths.

Thanks to seat belts, crum­ple zones and re­in­forced roof beams, driv­ers of­ten walk away from lowspeed col­li­sions. Pedes­tri­ans are not so lucky. On av­er­age over the past decade, pedes­tri­ans made up just over one in ev­ery four road deaths (27%), but last year this num­ber rose to 38%.

Of the 14 071 friends and fam­ily who died in road deaths last year, 5 410 were walk­ing or in a few in­stances, cy­cling next to the road.

Yes, a lot of them were tak­ing their chance in traf­fic by jay­walk­ing (38,8%), but hit-and-run crashes killed 18,5%.

Driv­ers mean­while are mostly dy­ing be­cause of hu­man er­ror, but high speed is also killing many (14,1%), while over­tak­ing in the face of on­com­ing traf­fic claimed a sur­pris­ingly low 6,9%, drunk driv­ing or driv­ing while on drugs 3,6%, and driver fa­tigue 2,2%.

The Au­to­mo­bile As­so­ci­a­tion (AA) said in a state­ment these fig­ures should worry ev­ery mo­torist in the coun­try.

“These num­bers seem to in­di­cate that aware­ness cam­paigns and ed­u­ca­tion ini­tia­tives are not work­ing well enough, driver at­ti­tudes are get­ting worse, and that law en­force­ment is not mak­ing the im­pact it should.

“We are deeply con­cerned about these fa­tal­i­ties, more so be­cause they show an in­crease, and call for ur­gent ac­tion from all role-play­ers in­volved in road safety to re­verse this,” the AA said.

The AA noted that while the gov­ern­ment plays a piv­otal role in ad­dress­ing the car­nage on the coun­try’s roads, mo­torists and pedes­tri­ans seem to not be heed­ing the call to drive and walk safer, and should see these num­bers as a stark warn­ing.

“Too of­ten mo­torists are driv­ing reck­lessly or not obey­ing the rules of the road.

“Sim­i­larly, pedes­tri­ans are not pro­tect­ing them­selves by be­ing more vis­i­ble to cars, or are tak­ing chances cross­ing over roads where they shouldn’t.

“More ef­fort is needed by both groups of road users, and more ef­fort is needed by or­gan­i­sa­tions in­volved in road safety to make safety a pri­or­ity,” the AA said.

Wheels spoke to sev­eral ci­ti­zens in KZN’s cap­i­tal to hear how this can be done. Dan Goven­der, a com­mu­nity ac­tivist, agreed with the AA that a wider ap­proach to road safety ed­u­ca­tion is needed, and said he has made sev­eral pro­pos­als to rel­e­vant bod­ies to start by teach­ing Grade Rs how to cross a road safely.

Ve­hi­cle tech­ni­cian Lunga Sibaya said peo­ple who have never steered a ve­hi­cle have no clue of clos­ing dis­tances or re­ac­tion times, which is why pedes­tri­ans of­ten get it fa­tally wrong.

He mooted us­ing KZN’s steep hills and drift­ing trikes to teach pedes­tri­ans these prin­ci­ples in a fun way.

Top drift car driver Kurt Volmink agreed fun is the best way to teach road safety to both driv­ers and pedes­tri­ans, and said the mo­tor­ing event to be hosted at Ma­son’s Mill for Youth Day tomorrow aims to im­part knowl­edge on car con­trol and speed to the fans — most of whom walk in from Eden­dale.

PHOTO: FOOTBALLTRIPPER.COM

The Harry Gwala sta­dium and pitch in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg, which seats only 12 000 peo­ple, would fill to over­flow­ing if the 14 071 peo­ple who died on South Africa’s roads last year could all re­turn.

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