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Prioritise road safety

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The attitude of South African road users must rank among the most atrocious in the world

File photo: David Ritchie / African News Agency

TOMORROW the annual Easter weekend mad rush begins, with thousands of motorists hitting the highways and byways for holiday and religious pilgrimages. And, as is often the case, dozens of these road users will not survive.

Last year, 235 people died on South African roads over the Easter holidays, a phenomenal 51% increase over the 2016 figure of 156.

Some of the deadliest crashes over last year’s Easter weekend were recorded in Gauteng, the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

A breakdown of what contributed the most in the fatalities shows it was passengers (50%), pedestrians (24.5%), drivers (19.8%) and cyclists (5.7%).

According to the Road Traffic Management Corporation, the reasons for the fatalities include drivers and passengers not wearing seat belts, drinking and driving, and overloading.

Human factors are indicated as the biggest contributor to road crashes and fatalities, accounting for 77.5% of contributing factors. Vehicle factors (6%) and road and environmental factors (16.5%), make up the balance of contributing factors.

The Automobile Association says among the human factors that lead to crashes – and deaths – are jaywalking pedestrians (38.8%), hit and run crashes (18.5%), high speed (14.1%), overtaking in the face of oncoming traffic (6.9%), drunk driving or driving while on drugs (3.6%), and driver fatigue (2.2%).

The attitude of South African road users must rank among the most atrocious in the world.

Each Monday our newspapers are filled with shocking statistics of drivers arrested during weekend crackdowns on drunk drivers.

Cheek-by-jowl are figures of drivers held for speeding.

A more vigorous approach to road safety education is needed in schools, teaching children from a young age to be better road users.

And while authorities can do more to address the road carnage, it is the responsibility of every road user – motorist and pedestrian – to heed the call to drive and walk safer. Don’t exceed the speed limit. Don’t drink and drive. Take a rest every two hours or 200km.

Don’t drive recklessly or disobey the rules. Ensure your vehicle is roadworthy. Be considerate. Don’t walk on highways, especially while drunk, and don’t wear dark clothing.

Road fatalities are a cause for great concern – this Easter weekend let’s make road safety a top priority.