Accident statistics in South Africa are, I think, mostly regarded as fiction – it’s rare to find traffic death rates as high as in this country, so most drivers ( in this country ) appear to ignore the stats/reality and simply go about their daily business, driving without care or regard for law or other road users. ‘It won’t happen to me’ they think. I’m the better driver. There’s a certain aggressiveness about most drivers. They’ll go through a stop street, exceed the speed limit or break some other traffic law; but the fault is never theirs, responsibility abdicated. Herd mentality reigns, if everyone else does it, why shouldn’t I?
I saw the aftermath of an accident earlier this year in which 2 teenagers on a moped were killed because someone in front of them decided to make a u-turn across a solid lane divider. The melted road from the ensuing vehicle fire, at the corner Bosmansdam and Giel Basson, bears a stark reminder that a large percentage of drivers ‘just don’t care’. Until it’s too late of course.
I watch every day as drivers ignore the stop street in front of my house, a number not even bothering to slow down. I watch every day as car after car goes through the red traffic lights on Bosmansdam Bridge. I watch every day as moms ignore the stop streets outside Edgemead Primary and at the corner of Letchworth and Thomas Bowler. I watched yesterday as the Bantam bakkie ignored the stop street on Hendrik Verwoed and almost slammed into the back of the Audi that had just entered the lane ( legally ). I recently saw a father driving with his daughter, who was controlling the steering wheel, on his lap. I watch a family member of mine living with an incredible amount of pain, as a result of injury from an accident.
I watch all this and hope that no one will be in an accident and die. Inevitably, someone will be and will die.
Is it such a common occurrence that we simply are de-sensitised? Or is it that most of us are just plain lazy and couldn’t be bothered to stop at that stop street or driver sober? A combination I think. Friends, family, neighbours, work colleagues, delivery men, truck drivers, taxis, doctors, businessmen, mothers, lawyers, politicians – everyone ignores road law.
Call me cynical. Call me insensitive. Call me whatever you want. But when someone drives through a red light a kills you, will it matter? Will it matter that you didn’t try and make a difference by scolding your brother for speeding? Will it matter that you said nothing when your colleague went through the red light? Will it matter that you yourself were intoxicated and still drove?
It won’t matter at all.
Sensitivity is irrelevant to the person that dies. It’s too late then.
Do your part today – respect human life, drive according to the law and teach others to do the same
- there are 13,000+ fatal accidents, 40,000 serious injuries and 500,000 accidents per year in SA
- 70%+ drivers do not stop correctly at stop streets
- 1 in 10 drivers will go through a red traffic light 3 out of 10 times ( where an orange light has presented an opportunity to stop )
- 1 in 100 drivers will go through a red traffic light 1 out of 10 times ( where a red light is already present )
- 90% of accidents in South Africa are due to lawlessness
- “Human factors” – such as non-adherence to traffic rules and aggressive, reckless, negligent or inconsiderate driver behaviour – are the major contributing factors in accidents, playing a causal role in 70-80% of all accidents
- “Vehicle factors” such as poor lights, smooth or damaged tyres and poor brakes contribute to a further 10-15% of accidents
- Poor road conditions only contribute to 5-10% of accidents
- A full 2 thirds of readers of this article don’t stop at stop streets
The arrivealive website has a large amount of relevant information and the Safe Driving Techniques section is especially important. The car-accidents website shows a grim reminder of the reality of vehicle accidents.