Home Opinion and Features Time for road users to focus on safety

Time for road users to focus on safety

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Why do so many still drive under the influence, or take to the road in unroadworthy vehicles? Why exceed the speed limit?

PEAK holiday traffic is expected. Picture: Wesley Fester

EVEN a cursory perusal of the road death toll statistics over the past 10 years is enough to fill one with despair. We concur with the Automobile Association, which says the statistics show the situation on the country’s roads is worsening, despite numerous safety campaigns by the government and non-governmental organisations.

Looking at the graph, the arrow hardly moves downward. That means thousands upon thousands of people continue to lose their lives in the relentless carnage on our roads. In fact, the AA notes that more than 134000 road users have lost their lives in the past 10 years.

Broken down, the statistics are sobering: in 2008 there were 13874 fatalities, 36% of whom were pedestrians; in 2009 there were 13776 deaths (34% pedestrians); 2010 saw 13968 fatalities (33% pedestrians); 2011, 13954 (36% pedestrians); 2012, 13528 (36% pedestrians); 2013, 11844 (36% pedestrians); 2014, 12702 (35% pedestrians); 2015, 12944 (38% pedestrians); 2016, 14071 (38% pedestrians); and last year there were 14050 road fatalities (38% pedestrians).

These are figures that are normally associated with war zones, and should be cause for deep concern.

This past weekend thousands of people started making their mad dash for their holiday destinations. Major urban centres will see an exodus of holidaymakers for the coast. As usual, many of those behind the steering wheel will throw caution to the wind. Others will walk under the influence. Once again, innocent lives will be lost.

Where is the respect for the law? Why do so many still drive under the influence, or take to the road in unroadworthy vehicles? Why exceed the speed limit?

Sadly, too many South Africans have an extremely lackadaisical attitude towards safe road use, and all the education and enforcement in the world will not stop those intent on playing by their own rules.

Without a change of attitude among road users – and, importantly, respect for the law – efforts to decrease fatalities and crashes by a noticeable margin will not succeed.

We need a complete overall of attitudes and mindset. Without genuine commitment from all role-players, and a complete change in the attitude of all road users, we will never slay this monster. Please drive safely – and arrive alive.