Yet an­other tragedy

Zululand Observer - Weekender - - ZO OPINION -

Our hearts go out to the fam­i­lies and loved ones of the vic­tims who per­ished in Sun­day’s tragic ac­ci­dent on the N2 near Mtun­zini.

We also pray con­cern­ing the long re­cov­ery pe­riod that awaits many of the sur­vivors, some of whom will be scarred and per­haps even dis­abled for the rest of their lives.

How quickly lives can be changed; how thin is the line be­tween life and death!

Not a week goes by with­out this news­pa­per re­port­ing on some hor­rific ac­ci­dent that claimed the lives of vic­tims whose loved ones’ hearts were shat­tered in an in­stant.

While the cause of Sun­day’s crash is yet to be of­fi­cially made known, it is ironic that the ac­ci­dent took place ad­ja­cent to where a brand new high­way – the dou­bling of the ex­ist­ing N2 – is tak­ing place.

Look­ing ahead, one would think a brand new, wider, safer road will re­sult in fewer ac­ci­dents – but this does not take into ac­count the hu­man fac­tor.

Ex­pe­ri­ence shows per­haps just the op­po­site; bet­ter roads gen­er­ally mean higher speeds and more reck­less over­tak­ing on the part of so many road users, who don’t slow down re­gard­less of the weather con­di­tions.

Stop­ping the car­nage should, one would sup­pose, be rel­a­tively easy; but still the ac­ci­dent statis­tics rise and this de­spite countless cam­paigns de­signed to lower the ob­scene death toll.

Try as they might, traf­fic au­thor­i­ties are pow­er­less against the mind­set and men­tal­ity that is de­ter­mined to ride as fast and as reck­lessly as pos­si­ble – with or with­out a valid driver’s li­cence.

Even be­fore the en­gine of a some­times un­road­wor­thy and of­ten over­loaded ve­hi­cle is started, peo­ple fre­quently un­der the in­flu­ence of al­co­hol or drugs, or ex­tremely fa­tigued, fail to buckle up and then pro­ceed to text and use so­cial me­dia while driv­ing.

The countless ‘drive safe’ cam­paigns have had lit­tle ef­fect, well-mean­ing and sin­cere as they are.

It’s peo­ple that cause ac­ci­dents. And peo­ple should be trained, dis­ci­plined, cor­rected, pun­ished and re­ha­bil­i­tated.

Bring on the de­merit sys­tem and en­force it, start­ing with poor, law­less habits in ur­ban ar­eas which go un­pun­ished, such as ig­nor­ing stop signs and ro­bots – be­fore they get out on the faster open roads.

Proper road safety mea­sures are of no con­so­la­tion to the fam­i­lies who mourn this week, but it could save oth­ers from sim­i­lar heart­break.

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