While crash fatalities in South Africa have decreased since its peak in 2006, numbers remain high, with an added concern of recent years seeing an increasing trend once again.
In 2016, a total of 14 071 deaths were reported, an increase of 9 percent over 2015, with pedestrians accounting for 38 percent of reported fatalities, motorised vehicle passengers accounted for 33 percent and motorised vehicle drivers for 26 percent. “While human error may be unavoidable, it is possible to have greater control over road traffic injuries through proactive strategies from all road users which can be enhanced with a safety orientated infrastructure and an increase in vehicle safety features and post-crash care,” says Eugene Beck, CEO of RoadCover, who are at the coalface of accidents in South Africa, working on behalf of its members to get 100 percent pay out of their members RAF claim at no extra cost to themselves.
As children return to school and people go back to work, there is a need to address the increased traffic on the road and to make it safer for all road users. Beck advocates that it is the responsibility of those in key positions to raise public awareness as a vital means of reducing fatalities and protecting our children as follows:
- Driving tips
Tempting as it may be to increase speed especially when you are late, it is best to maintain the speed limit (60km/hr – urban roads; 80 km/hr – rural, 120km/hr motorway)
- Be aware of children crossing the street, especially in a school area
- Maintain focus and avoid distractions like cell phones
- Be sure to pay special attention to your blind spots.
- The Road Transport Management Corporation’s (RTMC) research report of 2016 showed drivers often engage in secondary activities while driving such as looking at, talking with the passenger, eating and grooming.
- Seat belts add to safety, reducing the risk of a fatality among front-seat passengers by 40–50 percent and of rear-seat passengers by between 25–75 percent.
- If correctly installed and used, child restraints reduce deaths among infants by approximately 70 percent and deaths among small children by between 54 percent and 80 percent.
- Riding to School
Wear a properly fitted motorcycle helmet. This can help minimise severe injury by 70 percent and death by 40 percent.
- Riding in groups with other learners in your neighbourhood helps increase visibility of riders. Groups can even be led by a teacher, parent or an older student.
- Focus on the road ahead to anticipate obstacles such as potholes, speed bumps and stationery cars.
- Increase your visibility by wearing a bright colour and be vigilant of other cars which may not see you.
- Become familiar with the route and choose alternative, safe routes to school.
- Avoid headphones as you need your ears on full alert.
- Obey the rules of the road and use the appropriate hand signals.
- Walking to School
Walk on the pavement rather than in the road
- Walk together in groups and wear brightly coloured tops for greater visibility.
- Avoid earphones or texting as these distractions can make you vulnerable to vehicles.
- Be alert: know what is going on around you in terms of cars, people etc.
- Plan your route and use alternative routes which have less traffic.
- When walking alone, keep a safe distance from strangers and avoid confrontation.
- Only cross a road at a designated road crossing and when it is safe to do so.
- Public Transport
Avoid overcrowded buses or taxis
- When disembarking make sure it is safe to do so and only once the vehicle has come to a complete stop.
- Arrive 5 minutes before schedule pickup time and stand away from the kerb.
Road safety is often about patience and consideration. If we all start taking more responsibility for our actions and use the road with greater care and vigilance, we can help reduce the number of injuries and fatalities relating to road accidents. “With pedestrians and children vulnerable when it comes to road accidents, let’s increase our vigilance and commitment to making the roads safe for our children and all other users of the road as we start the new school term,” concludes the RoadCover CEO.
SOURCE: TALKING POINT COMMUNICATIONS