South African drivers need a new attitude
Poor driver attitude and a disregard for the rules of the road were the major causes of the unacceptable road deaths during the festive season.
Despite the stern effort that the Department of Transport and all the other traffic authorities around the country applied to traffic controls and roadside checks, 1 368 people were killed on our roads during the festive season, according to the latest media reports.
This number of road-related deaths is totally unacceptable and the statistics prove that, although the extra roadblocks and traffic policing may have helped to curb the number of deaths, it is the poor attitude of drivers, who totally ignore the National Road Traffic Act rules of the road, that is responsible for the unacceptably high road deaths.
Media reports during the festive season on the findings at the scene of accidents, and at the many countrywide road blocks, clearly indicated that speeding, driving under the influence of drugs and or alcohol, not wearing seat belts and blatantly ignoring the rules of the road were the major causes of these fatalities.
Traffic officials allegedly accepting bribes from motorists has resulted in many motorists adopting an attitude that they can bribe their way out of any traffic violation and, therefore, completely ignore the rules of the road.
At many of the roadblocks that were manned during the festive season, officials found a number of drivers who did not possess a valid driver’s licence and some without a driving licence. Many of these people are prepared to take the chance of driving without a valid driver’s licence as they believe that they can buy their way out of trouble by bribing corrupt traffic officials.
There were many media discussions regarding the reduction of the speed limits in the country and whether slower speed limits would reduce the number of accidents. In my opinion, slower speed limits, on the busy ring roads around the major cities, would help to reduce the accident rate on these roads.
If all motorists adhere to the speed limit, this would result in an even traffic flow and reduce the number of stop and start driving situations, which are often the cause of accidents that we continually experience on our highways.
As the increased number of traffic officials manning our roads has not helped to drastically reduce the unacceptable number of road deaths in South Africa, and with the unacceptable projections by the World Health Organisation – that the number of road deaths will increase by 65 percent over the next 20 years – we urgently need to find more effective ways of getting drivers to change their attitudes and adhere to the rules of the road.
One of this country’s most respected commercial vehicle industry authorities, VIC OLIVER has been in this industry for over 50 years. Before joining the FOCUS team, he spent 15 years with Nissan Diesel (now UD Trucks), 11 years with Busaf and seven years with International.