Let this year’s festive period be different and be remembered for our exemplary behaviour on the roads, says the writer. File Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA)
CRA Motoring & Public Safety Explored – South Africa
By Simon Zwane
Kuley’ngozi zomgwaqo mntanami ngiyajabula ufike usaphila,” (I am grateful, my child, that despite the scourge of road accidents, you have arrived safely).
This line, from a popular song by renowned musician Jabulani Hadebe, fondly known as Sjava, vividly reflects the trepidation that overwhelms many parents who wait patiently for their children to travel home from metropolitan areas of work to enjoy holiday festivities with their loved ones, as the year draws to an end.
In many homes, mothers pray and hope that their children arrive home alive. Sadly, some do not make it, turning what should be a time of family reunion and joyous celebrations into a period of sadness and mourning.
This is a result of the unacceptably high levels of road traffic crashes, injuries and deaths on South Africa’s roads. Tragically, those who die in large numbers are the economically active young adults aged between 25 and 39 years. These are the people who carry the hopes and aspirations of many families to assist them to escape from poverty. They are the people that the country relies on to drive economic growth and development.
Every year the government, at national, provincial and municipal levels, embarks on efforts to reduce the scourge of road carnage for loving mothers to sing a different tune. However, the incalcitrant attitude of motorists is a major stumbling block.
Evidence shows that over 80% of fatal road crashes in the country are due to the negative attitude and behaviour of drivers on roads. Many motorists believe that they can easily get away with disobeying the rules of the road and driving drunk.
Research points out that many of the crashes that happen at night and over the weekends are largely attributable to alcohol consumption. It is projected that up to 27% of fatal crashes are due to alcohol consumption.
The recent Covid-19 lockdown statistics amplified this point event more.
The number of fatal crashes were fewer under lockdown levels five and four, but rose sharply under level three. They have continued to rise under lockdown level one.
While it cannot be denied that high traffic volumes under lockdown levels three to one plays a role, the negative influence of alcohol cannot be ruled out.
What these statistics demonstrate is that safer roads are possible in South Africa. All that is needed is for each driver to acknowledge that it is their responsibility to drive safely and avoid conduct that exposes others to risk.
There must also be certainty that those who break the rules of the road face consequences for their reckless behaviour. It is now up to the citizens to play their part. No one should look the other way when precious lives are lost needlessly on the roads. Uncles should not be allowed to get behind the steering wheel after an afternoon of family festivities. Families should opt to take trips during the day when visibility is clear and when there are fewer errant drivers on the roads.
It is possible to make the festive season a time for family re-unions and joyous celebrations. Let South Africans hold hands and make it happen. Let this year’s festive period be different and be remembered for our exemplary behaviour on the roads.
Simon Zwane is the Chief Communication Officer for the Road Traffic Management Corporation.
Article Credit To IOL.