Make road safety a priority
The festive season should be about relaxation, joy and celebration. Sadly, for many South Africans this time of year can turn into one of mourning the lives of loved ones tragically taken away in road accidents.
During the last festive season, we suffered a total of 1 527 deaths on our roads. Although this is an 11 percent drop from the previous year, these numbers are still unacceptably high.
Road-user behaviour is seen as the greatest contributing factor to road crashes globally. Driving responsibly, wearing seatbelts, obeying the rules of the road and avoiding drinking and driving are all within the power of road users. We urge drivers to be respectful of their fellow road users and to exercise patience when travelling to and from their various holiday destinations. These are the key factors in securing the safety of yourself and others, and in preventing the tragic accidents happening on our roads.
Over the years, government has invested significantly in road infrastructure, and all of our major highways are of a world-class standard. Despite this, and the fact that several road safety strategies have been compiled over the past 20 years, we have not yet seen significant improvements in road safety. This prompted the Department of Transport to develop the National Road Safety Strategy 2016–2030 (NRSS). A product of both national and international policies on road safety, the strategy outlines a number of interventions that can be implemented in order to address the high number of road accidents.
The NRSS promotes responsible and safe road-user behaviour, the provision of safe road infrastructure, ensuring safer vehicles and delivering quality road safety management.
The strategy has been split into a number of short-, medium- and long-term periods. Road users will already begin seeing the shortterm interventions, which include better resourcing, monitoring and institutional strengthening, being implemented.The 365 Days of
Road Safety Programme has seen traffic officers increasing their presence on our roads, with more roadblocks and visible traffic monitoring taking place. Tougher measures are also being taken against irresponsible road users who break the law. Meanwhile, concerted efforts are being made to root out corruption among traffic officials.
In the medium-term, the strategy aims to better vehicle safety standards, improve road designs and increase the levels of road safety research. In the long-term, we hope to see an environment of innovative road safety technology and proactive management of the roads from the entire spectrum of stakeholders.
However, it needs to be reasserted that road safety starts with road users. Get to your destinations safely, so that the festive season can be the time of enjoyment it is meant to be.
Phumla Williams, GCIS Acting Director-General.