With the July school holidays entering their last week, heavier than normal traffic is expected on major routes in South Africa as holidaymakers return home, with school terms resuming on 18 July. The Automobile Association (AA) has warned motorists to be vigilant on the road, to obey all the rules, and to drive safely.
Brian Joss – “We wish to remind all motorists that their, their passengers’ lives and the lives of other road users, are literally in their hands. We call on all drivers to avoid risky overtaking, speeding, ignoring the conditions of the road, and being distracted while driving, to ensure that they and their families arrive home safely,” the AA said.
Traffic volumes on the N3 to and from KwaZulu-Natal, the N4 to and from Polokwane, and the N1 and N2 to and from Cape Town are expected to have increased volumes this week ahead of Monday’s return to school.
According to figures from the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), 1185 people died on South African roads in July last year. Although this was marginally lower than 1196 fatalities in 2014, the AA believes the figure is still tragically high, and cause for great concern.
“We have said many times before that more needs to be done to curb fatalities on our roads. While we acknowledge that road users need to change their attitudes, a more concerted effort is also needed by authorities. Our fear this year is that the number of fatalities will not change significantly enough and that, as a country, we will simply continue to accept this as our normal,” the AA noted.
RTMC figures show that nearly 13 000 (12 944) people died on the country’s roads last year, with December (1449 fatalities), August (1309), May (1186), and July (1185) being the months with the highest number of deaths.
Although these months record higher deaths, it must be remembered that fatal crashes, and deaths, occur on South African roads daily. While road safety initiatives intensify over holiday periods, poor driving behaviour, and the associated consequences, are part of everyday life that needs urgent attention.
The Association said that delays in the implementation of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) system, inefficient and static policing, the lack of meaningful consequences for road offenders, and a disregard of traffic laws by motorists, all contributed to the high death toll.
“Motorists should be careful not to place the burden of reducing road deaths on government’s shoulders alone. Cars must be kept in a safe and roadworthy condition, drivers need to obey all of the rules of the road (such as not speeding, wearing seatbelts, and not talking on their cellphones while driving), and they need to remember that they are responsible for the lives of everyone in their car and those of the people around them. This message needs to be reinforced day after day if South Africa has any hope of changing its alarming road death statistics,” the AA said.