Infectious diseases and pandemics aside, one of the most lethal threats to South African citizens remains fatal road accidents. In a country where the December death toll surpasses that of most countries’ annual road accident statistics, staying safe on our roads has literally become a matter of life and death.
With yearly increases in road deaths, and a cost to the economy of more than R164 billion, it’s clear that more needs to be done to protect South Africans on the roads. But what can we as motorists, motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians do to ensure our own safety, and the safety of others? This National Transport month, let’s take a look at what we can all do to arrive alive.
Speed kills, and yet more of us go over the speed limit than we’d like to admit, thinking that an extra 5km/h or 10km/h won’t make an impact. The fact is, however, that the faster you drive, the more likely you are to kill someone you hit – so slowing down and adhering to the speed limit could help save valuable lives. Don’t use speed limits as a suggestion – stick to them for your safety, and the safety of others on the road.
Wear your seatbelt
Did you know – in the event of a car accident, wearing your seatbelt could help reduce the risk of death by as much as 60%. It’s for this reason that wearing seatbelts is so strongly recommended, and why children under the age of three need to be securely restrained in proper child-friendly seats. It’s not about comfort or aesthetics, it’s about saving lives.
Wear your helmet
As a cyclist or a motorcyclist, you can’t wear a seatbelt – but you can wear a helmet. While wearing a helmet may feel unnecessary or overly cautious, in fact wearing the correct headgear can help to reduce the risk of brain injuries and head trauma by as much as 88%. With statistics this compelling, it’s easy to see why prioritising personal safety is so crucial on the roads.
It should go without saying, but being sober while driving, cycling, and even walking is critical to ensuring your safety, and the safety of others on the roads – particularly with zero tolerance regulations currently under discussion. In order to avoid accidents, fatalities and lifelong regrets, never drive under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or even some medications. Rather take a taxi or public transport, or stay home instead.
Don’t be distracted
Cellphones, eating, drinking, putting on makeup or even listening to loud music – these are all distractions, and can impede your reaction time, while causing you to lose focus. Whether you’re driving, cycling or walking, you need to be completely aware of the road and other road users at all times, in order to ensure your safety, and the safety of others.
By far the most important guideline to follow when on the roads however, is to pay attention. Pay attention to traffic laws, to signs, to traffic lights, to other road users, to weather conditions, to your safety, and to your attitude. Maintain your focus, use our roads with caution, and treat others with respect. The more we can pay attention in our own personal capacity, the more we can help to minimise accidents, and to stay safe on our roads all the way to our final destination.