2013 – done and dusted
Trucks don’t get a holiday – they can’t. So it’s up to everyone sharing the roads – truckers, holiday makers and pedestrians – to play nice and keep safe
It almost seems as though this year never really got started and it’s already done and dusted. All the T-shirts handed out. The first clues started in October with tinsel and Boney M music in the stores. These, of course, are designed to achieve two things – lighten wallets and encourage that feeling of panic when you realise there’s too much to do and not enough time to get it all done.
With very few exceptions we’ve all been working like crazy to get to December in one piece. Some of the lucky ones will actually get a holiday, and hope that they make it to January intact too. But trucks don’t like holidays.
You see trucks are expensive. Well, maybe not quite Ferrari expensive, but that’s close enough. And that’s why they need to work. In fact their owners prefer them to be working all the time.
Our economy would simply roll over and play dead if trucks stopped working. By the same token the fat guy in the red suit would have no presents to fill all the stockings either. He’s outsourced his distribution to a few well known logistics companies – something about green unions with elves not being recognised by the red ones. Labour issues you see.
But with the holidays around the corner there are going to be grumpy car drivers out there who will moan about being stuck behind a rig crawling up Van Reenen’s Pass. That same driver will, at some stage, decide to take a chance and overtake – a decision that quite often ends badly.
The trouble is there is very little chance that the crazy driver out there will get caught for anything other than speeding (and usually by camera). Ten million vehicles (and very nearly the same number of drivers) are policed by about 18 000 traffic cops – who are mainly in the cities. Road safety practitioners (the folks who teach traffic safety to our kids at schools, try to educate communities, road safety NGO’s and researchers) country-wide? There are about 200. This says something about priorities doesn’t it?
So many folks looking forward to the summer break won’t make it back next year. History has a way of repeating itself. The summer school holiday will result in the equivalent of all the pupils in an average high school being killed – around 1 500 over the next six weeks. Why spoil your holiday by being one of the anticipated 20 000 who will be injured during the same period on our roads?
Unfortunately that’s the grim reality, which won’t change until we all learn to share the road and curb the enthusiasm with which traffic rules are broken.
To the truckers out there – a huge “thank you” for helping out the fat guy and keeping our country great to live, work and play in. You have earned the T-shirt. Be safe.
SKID MARKS is a regular column in which Gary Ronald presents his personal and sometimes jaundiced view on transport, safety and mobility. Ronald has a wealth of experience in these fields and has presented numerous papers both locally and internationally. FOCUS appreciates his witty, topical and sometimes irreverent stance on the industry. If you’d like to respond to whatever punches he throws, visit www.focusontransport.co.za