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