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Festive period fatalities put a damper on things

26.01.2015

EVERY year news outlets inundate us with news of the number of accidents and fatalities on our roads, especially over the festive period. Now I normally read about it and report back on some of the news regarding road crash statistics. However, this year, I did a large amount of travelling and have some firsthand experience to share about this ongoing problem.

While according to reports that overall fatalities are down when compared to the 2013 statistics, there is still an alarmingly high number of incidents. Transport Minister, Dipuo Peters, has reported that on average 38 people passed away on our roads each day during the 2014 festive period.

The official statistics are just over 900 fatal crashes and almost 1 200 deaths. Not surprisingly, the most incidents were recorded in KwaZulu-Natal as so many holiday goers make their way down to the warm waters of the KZN coastal area.

I made my way to Lesotho and back up to Gauteng, going through to Mozambique. This epic journey was filled with many encounters with less than adept displays of driving prowess by certain road users.

I was truly astonished at the number of people in large SUVs packed with their loved ones who were overtaking multiple cars and trucks on single lane roads often on a blind rise. All of that risk only for me to catch up to all of them at the next toll gate. Pure idiocy if you ask me.

This eventually ended in disaster as one of these irresponsible drivers flew past me and a few minutes later I spotted him parked in the hedges obviously after swerving for an oncoming car. Unfortunately for the innocent driver in the other bakkie, both he and his passengers perished as their bakkie flipped on its roof.

That was just one of the incidents that I witnessed. I also saw what tailgating can do as a Tazz smashed into the rear-end of an old bakkie, which was slowing down to stop at a badly placed police road block. Despite their oddly placed trap, the police were actually a relief at most points as I saw them pulling over a few of the same silly drivers who had passed me earlier that day.

It was a truly unpleasant experience driving to holiday destinations as I got the impression that all my fellow road users were more concerned with the end goal of getting to their prospective destinations as quickly as possible without thinking about how unsafe their actions actually are.

These drivers are simply impatient. Now couple their impatience with those who are fatigued, those who drive under the influence of alcohol and drugs, unlicensed drivers or un-roadworthy vehicles, and you have the perfect storm for road death.

Pedestrians are also a big problem as they contribute another dimension to the problem of road fatalities. The only pedestrians that I encountered were cows and goats who seem to have zero self-preservation instinct as they walk out into the middle of the road in a 120 km/h zone, too often for comfort.

So I implore all drivers to take it easy this year; we still have the Easter holiday period, the short September vacation and a big December break to negotiate. Be patient, your venue will still be there if you get there 20 minutes later than the maniac who tore past you. Plus, you’ll have the peace of mind knowing that you have made it there safely, used less fuel and done less wear and tear to your vehicle in the process.

Article written by Sean Nurse
26.01.2015
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