Advice Column, Motor safety

National Road Safety Awareness Week

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May 5 – 11 this year is National Road Safety Awareness Week. In a speech focusing on the 2015 Easter Road Safety campaign, Minister Dipuo Peters expressed her “disquiet and disappointment at the high rate of crashes and fatalities experienced during this Easter weekend”, saying the gloomy picture could not be left unchallenged.

Peters said the official vehicle population had grown this year and this has translated into an added burden on the road infrastructure network and law enforcement capacity. In December 2013, there were 11 006 184 vehicles throughout the country. By December 2014, this number had grown by 363 741 to reach 11 369 925 registered vehicles. More than half (52%) of these vehicles were in Gauteng (38.76%) and KwaZulu Natal (13.47%).  The number of driver’s licenses issued had also increased from 10 645 046 to 11 148 372, meaning that 503 326 new drivers had recently been licensed to use the country’s road networks she said.

In April 2015, it was announced by the Minister that government is in talks to soon introduce a system where metro police officers can randomly stop motorists and retest their driving.  The National Road Traffic Act empowers traffic officers to do this.

Most fatalities on South African roads are caused by drunk driving, unroadworthy vehicles, speed and dangerous and negligent driving.  To this end our question is, what are you as a responsible citizen of South Africa, doing to play your part in terms of decreasing our excessively high negative road usage statistics?  It is an unfortunate fact that we do not have public road transport systems like other first-world countries.  This of course has put an enormous strain on families especially where in almost every instance, both partners are working resulting in the use of two cars a day just to get to work and back.  Naturally this leads to the extreme congestion on our roads that almost every one of us experiences on a daily basis and sitting in traffic can only compound the stress that we’re all already feeling.

There are certain things that can be done just to relieve the stress of driving in peak hour traffic and a lot of the larger corporates have long ago introduced flexi-time for staff and if you are in a position to take advantage of working flexi hours, we would certainly encourage you to do that.  Regular visits to the gym also helps to relieve stress and with a healthy body and mind, you will find yourself much more able to deal with driving in daily hectic traffic.

If we look at other causes of the fatalities in South Africa, driving drunk does not have to be one of them.  There are many companies out there who will ensure that you and your car get home safely if you have had a night out on the town and the responsible thing to do would be to employ their services. The minimal extra cost in doing so can save not only your life, but that of a stranger as well.  It’s important to remember that when fatalities happen there are a number of people affected, not only those involved in the immediate accident.

Keeping our vehicles road worthy is an absolute must from all aspects.  As well as it contributing to keeping down fatalities on our roads, it most certainly contributes to a healthier environment for us to live in keeping pollution levels down.  And of course, it’s really not that difficult to keep to our speed limits.  There are reasons why suggested speed limits have been allocated to certain sections of roads and if we just all adhere to them, we would so easily be bringing down the amount of road fatalities experienced in South Africa.

So why not let every week be Road Safety Awareness week for you.  Educate your children and your families and work constructively to do your small part because every small part contributes to a more positive outcome.

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