You see, I lost two close friends this past week in a car accident. As I write this to you all I can feel the tears welling up inside and a couple cascading down my cheeks. I feel the pain of not only my own loss but for the loss experienced by the Day and Roos families and their friends.
Here we had two young souls in love, not only with each other but with the booming car culture in South Africa. They were a part of a group of friends who found each other through their passion for all things cars and a group that I’m proud to be a part of. The reaction after the incident wasn’t to seek answers or investigate but rather to be there to comfort and console one another.
A special mention must be made to the Community Policing Forum (CPF) who arranged a massive procession through the streets of the East Rand across to the accident scene. The sheer number of cars and the support and love shown by the community, for these two, not only speaks volumes of Jacques and Jacqueline, as people, but also how tightknit communities still exist and care.
Stories like this happen every day with so many people perishing on our roads, but it’s only when someone close to you passes that you realise how fragile life is and indeed, how easy it is to lose your life on our roads. Out of respect for my friends, their families and for the preservation of the memory of Jacques and Jacqueline I will not go into the details of the incident.
This event has drastically altered my life and the way I approach things on our roads. I have never been more cautious when driving around and it isn’t because I’m afraid of dying, it’s more about the way a death affects those who love you. I am more scared of causing the widespread pain and anguish that I have seen unfold around me lately than I am of passing on.
So, I implore all of you to take a stand with me; let’s cut the mortality rate on our roads. It can start with baby steps, how about, stop running through amber lights, stop using stop signs as yield points and keep a safe following distance.
Take it up a notch after that and adhere to the speed limits, especially in built-up areas; avoid using your cell phone while you drive and ensure that you are solely devoted to the task of driving. Make sure your car is checked periodically to make certain that all components are functioning optimally.
Drive as little as possible at night, especially late at night where there is the risk of drunken drivers/pedestrians. This is a no-brainer… don’t drive after having a few drinks, there are services out there that - for a nominal fee - will take you home; a couple hundred Rand could save you your life.
Practice safe overtaking manoeuvres; ensure that seatbelts are always worn by all occupants and that small children are strapped in to child seats.
That haunting phone call in the middle of the night was the wake-up call for me. I just hope this serves as a reminder to everyone who reads this before another tragedy strikes.
R.I.P friends - the world was a better place with you two around.