A report released in 2013 by the International Transport Forum or the ITF, rated South Africa as being ranked the worst country out of the 36 countries that took part in the study, when it came to road deaths per annum.
When they looked at developed countries, Northern United States came out at 10,4 road deaths per 100 000 inhabitants, Australia as low as 5.6 road deaths per 100 000 inhabitants. South Africa was reported, albeit classified as a Developing Country, at 27,6 road deaths per 100 000 inhabitants in 2011. This compared to other developing countries such as Argentina & Columbia at approximately 12 road deaths per 100 000 inhabitants and just behind South Africa was Malaysia at 23,8 road deaths per 100 000 inhabitants.
South Africa was not at this stage an official member of the ITF but was present as an observer and was able to take part in the study which received the data from the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC).
It was also reported that as much as 35% of all road deaths were Pedestrians. This stems from a multitude of causes, from alcohol, to crossing highways where vehicles are travelling too quickly and misjudged by the pedestrian. There has been a lot of efforts from authorities to prevent this where pedestrians caught walking on highways and the shard shoulders in South Africa are now being arrested, fences erected adjacent to common cross over points and pedestrian bridges being built to assist pedestrians to cross safely where they need to.
The costs of these road deaths each year costs South Africa around R300bil. per annum of tax payers money. This number would have increased over the last 2 years since the release of the report. In the last 20 years, statistics show that the number of vehicles on our roads had doubled, and show no signs of decreasing, despite the economy and improved public transport systems such as the Gautrain.
With all these vehicles on the road, we need to be aware and alert when it comes to the pedestrian. All too often, even at pedestrian crossings, vehicles do not slow down and give right of way to the pedestrian. Simply following laws can reduce these senseless deaths we see, respond to and attend to daily.
Being more aware of your surroundings, having a keener sense of observation where you are scanning from near too far and left to right all the time will increase the chance of you seeing a pedestrian and the possibility and risk of them walking into the path of your vehicle. There is no reason for South Africa to be the worst when it comes to Road Deaths – we have all the systems and infrastructure in place. We need to reassess our way of driving – become more patient, more alert, obey laws and traffic signs, and let’s work together as a country to reduce the carnage, save lives and make our roads a safe more accommodating place to be.
Welcome to 2016 and all it has to offer.
Amongst these offerings, we are hoping for some sort of relief from the now prolonged heat wave and ever encroaching drought and all the damage that can bring with it. South Africa needs rain and lots of it.
The thing about not having had rain for such a long time, other than the odd 10 minutes here and there, is that we tend to forget how to drive in rain when it does actually fall. For the most part, the motoring public think that they are able to drive as before and not adjust any of their driving habits or techniques when the rain starts to come down. This is SO wrong. We all have to immediately adjust how we drive when it rains, our following distances and speed for starters.
People just do not realise that everything changes when the roads are wet:
- Break effectiveness
- Tyre grip and road holding
- Stopping distances
All these factors need to be reconfigured in our minds when the rain comes down. Figures have not been confirmed as yet as to what the road deaths were over the Festive Season, but if 2014 is anything to go by which was in excess of 1300 deaths, then we are not looking good. We DO NOT need to contribute any further to this number by not being prepared for the rainy season, whenever that may be. So prepare for it now and be ready;
- Check tyre treads and make sure your tyres are in good condition. If you are unsure of what to look for, visit a tyre specialist who can advise you on whether or not the tread depths are acceptable and safe
- Make sure your breaks are in good working order. Even more so in rain and wet road conditions, you need to be able to stop in time
- Check your wiper blades and make sure you are able to see properly when it rains. If the blades make water streaks across your wind-srceen, they are worn and need to be replaced
But over and above the mechanical checks, we need to check ourselves, and make sure we are able to discipline ourselves to adjust our driving style and drive according to the road and weather conditions;
- Reduce speed
- Increase following distance
- Be visible – headlights on low beam and spot lights if necessary.
- Do NOT use rear fog lights unless absolutely necessary, they are exceptionally bright and can affect the motorists behind you if the weather condition is not actually foggy or in conditionsof heavy rain and poor visibility
Pay attention when overtaking heavy duty vehicles. These truck’s wheels can kick up allot of water spray and can often lead to a large quantity of water being deposited on your windscreen. We also need to pay attention to poor drainage on the roads, where there is poor drainage, large amounts of water can pool on the road and if driven through at high speeds, can lead to “aqua planing” and can result in an accident.
So please ensure you are all fully prepared for when the rain does come, as much as we need it, we need to remain safe and be aware of the perils it brings with it.
For other articles, tips and helpful hints you can also visit www.arrivealive.co.za