Last year we saw a slight decrease in the death toll versus 2013 with some 1 368 fatalities reported throughout the 2014 festive period. That is still far too many people who perish on our roads during a season that is meant for relaxation, time with the family and general enjoyment.
During this period people are taken out of their routine and are more likely to pay less attention while driving. They will speed unnecessarily and are more likely to drive after having a few drinks. The lack of concentration people show during this period constitutes distracted driving, which encompasses a wide range of activities people perform while driving, which includes eating, drinking, texting/speaking on a cell phone and anything else one might do, instead of concentrating on driving.
Drinking and driving is a no-brainer in this day and age. There are some 17 000 traffic officers being deployed across the country this festive season. Yes, that’s right; the officers are not allowed to go on leave...so there are going to be roadblocks filled with very bitter officers. I for one don’t want the inconvenience of having to deal with the authorities at this time of the year.
Don’t only expect roadblocks looking for drunk drivers but also more visible policing and officers out to nab you for speeding. The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) CEO, Makhosini Msibi, has said that in an effort to reduce speeding, drinking and driving and general recklessness there will be officers on the road every 30 kilometres.
In addition to driver-related checks the police will also implement mobile weighing and testing stations to ensure that vehicles are roadworthy. So, I urge you to have your vehicle checked by a reputable mechanic or dealership, many of which offer this service free, if you’re an existing customer. Being stopped and finding that your car is not roadworthy can lead to a hefty fine and in some cases your vehicle being impounded, which could spoil your entire vacation.
As Mr Msibi said in his statement, travellers should focus more on getting to their respective destinations safely, rather than focusing on how long their journey will take. I know this is easier said than done, as driving for extended periods with constant stops, can become frustrating. However, you cannot ever place your loved ones at risk just to make good time.
Luckily for all of us, there should be enough police power to nip over-eager drivers in the bud. Whether the manpower will be effective or not is yet to be seen but I’m sure everyone can appreciate the sentiment.
Wherever you’re travelling to this festive period I urge you to do so safely. From those travelling across the country to those who only venture as far as the local shopping mall, I wish you a happy festive season and a prosperous New Year.