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While the official road fatality statistics for 2017 have not yet been released, the figures for the festive period from 1 December 2017 to 15 January 2018 have been made public. These show that 1676 people died on South African roads during the holidays. And, while this number is lower than the 1714 the previous year, it is still an unacceptable high number of people who have died on our roads.

Unfortunately, South Africans have become desensitised to these figures. These figures are, nonetheless, still shocking and there’s no denying the carnage needs to stop. And, the numbers either stay the same or increase year after year despite numerous campaigns from government and non-governmental organisations.

So, what needs to be done to create safer roads for all road users: motorists, motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians?

We think the following areas can be considered.

Driver behaviour

Too many drivers are still disobeying traffic laws. Speeding remains a problem, and there seems to be a blatant disregard for speed limits on our roads. Very few drivers will admit to this, but they continue to push the boundaries and drive faster than they should. This despite the fact that everyone knows that speed kills.

Another offence committed by drivers and pedestrians alike is drinking and driving or drinking and walking. In fact, driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or medication is a big no-no.

Being distracted while driving is another driver behaviour which needs to change. This goes much further than talking on your cellphone or texting while driving. It includes, putting on make-up or your tie, eating, drinking and turning around to yell at the children on the backseat. Anything that prevents you from having both your hands firmly on the steering wheel should best not be done while driving.

In short, we all need to be better, more responsible drivers. Read tips here

Unroadworthy vehicles

There needs to be a concerted effort to get unroadworthy vehicles off the road. In December last year the results of the Safer Roads in SA survey showed that around 80 percent of motorists believe removing unroadworthy vehicles from our roads will make them safer.

The truth is that there are just too many unsafe and unroadworthy vehicles on our roads. It is the responsibility of every motorist to ensure their vehicle is roadworthy. Here’s a quick checklist

Pedestrian safety

Pedestrian fatalities are a major concern, accounting for over a third of the deaths on our roads.

Far too many, drunk, reckless and lawless pedestrians who disobey traffic laws, running across roads and highways and ignoring traffic signal, with little respect for motorists.

At the same time, motorists also do not focus on the road enough, especially when it is dark, and often this combination of a lack of respect by pedestrians and motorists can end in disaster,

Another key aspect of pedestrian safety is visibility. To address this the AA launched the #ISeeYou campaign in June 2017, aimed at making pedestrians more visible on the country’s roads. Visit our website to learn more about the campaign or to make a donation.

Education

Drivers and pedestrians of tomorrow need to be taught about road safety and traffic laws from an early age. This starts in the home so the message is to set a good example.

Teach your children to look both ways before crossing a road and to only do so at a designated area. They need to learn to respect other road users and to always be considerate, patient and courteous.

If you don’t speed, don’t give in to road rage, don’t drink and drive, and keep your vehicle in good shape, your children will learn that this is how things are done.

Quick tips from the AA

Wear a seatbelt, and ensure all passengers are also buckled up.
Secure children under three years of age in proper child restraint seats. It’s the law.
Check your tyres (including the spare) to ensure they are in good condition and safe. Worn tyres are potentially fatal.
Prepare for a long trip by getting enough rest before leaving. Also rest every two hundred kilometres or every two hours to stretch your legs and get some fresh air.
Don’t speed, and drive to the conditions of the road you are travelling on.
Drive sober. Alcohol and drugs and walking and driving are a deadly combination.
If you are a pedestrian, make yourself visible and walk in properly lit areas. Also, cross busy roads at the designated crossing lanes, and never walk on, or cross over, a highway.
Pay attention while driving. Distracted driving is extremely dangerous. Put your cellphone away and keep it in the car only for emergencies.
Be courteous to other drivers.
For added peace of mind on the road, download the AA App, which will give you access to a range of benefits and services.