Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa, in conjunction with the Automobile Association (AA) and other valued partners, has kicked off a multi-faceted road safety awareness and education campaign aimed at addressing South Africa’s high number of road accidents, injuries, and fatalities.
Brian Joss – Focused on driver training, pedestrian visibility, and child car seat safety, Ford is playing a significant role in addressing the major factors impacting on the country’s deplorable road accident statistics.
“Road safety is an important topic that affects everyone in South Africa, which has the unenviable distinction of having among the highest number of road accidents and fatalities in the world,” says Dr Casper Kruger, managing director of Ford Motor Company Sub-Saharan Africa Region. “This is due to a variety of issues such as inadequate driver training, non-compliance with the use of essential safety devices such as seatbelts and child car seats, as well as a large number of unroadworthy vehicles and unlicensed drivers.
We also have a tragic record when it comes to pedestrian safety.
“With around 15 000 people dying on our roads each year, we all have an important role to play in reducing this number and making South Africa’s roads much safer,” Kruger adds. “As one of the key players in the local automotive sector, we believe that Ford has a responsibility to create awareness around these issues by educating drivers, passengers and pedestrians on road safety, and helping road users get to their destination safely,” Kruger adds.
Ford is actively involved in driver training through its Driving Skills for Life programme, which is a free comprehensive course that equips licensed motorists with a greater understanding of responsible and safe driving techniques. This includes recognising hazards, vehicle handling, as well as speed and space management. It also addresses the critical areas of distracted driving, such as using cellphones when behind the wheel, and impaired driving when under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Ford, in collaboration with the AA, FIA and Michelin, has embarked on a high-profile national road safety campaign. The national programme, known as #ISeeYou, is focused on pedestrian visibility, and this is being linked to Ford’s Driving Skills for Life programme.
According to the AA, one in three fatalities on South African roads are pedestrians. Statistics from the Road Management Corporation (RTMC) show 5 410 pedestrians died on our roads in 2016. This represents a shocking 38 percent of all deaths on the country’s roads last year, making pedestrians, by far, the most vulnerable group of road users.
One of the key dangers for pedestrians is that they are seen too late by drivers. On dimly or unlit roads, and wearing dark clothes, pedestrians are often ‘invisible’ to motorists who may only see them when it’s too late to avoid hitting them. It’s a serious problem in South Africa, one which this campaign will address.
“Pedestrian safety remains one of the most important challenges to road safety authorities in South Africa. Pedestrian accidents, like other road traffic crashes, should not be accepted as inevitable because in some instances they are predictable and preventable. We are proud to partner with the AA on the visibility campaign and we would like to work together with communities to reduce pedestrian fatalities and make our roads safer for all,” Kruger states.
Pedestrians are particularly vulnerable at dawn and dusk, or when visibility is impaired because of smoke, dust or mist. Accordingly, a critical component of the campaign is urging pedestrians to wear high-visibility clothing or reflective sashes which are easier for drivers to see. As part of the initial phase of the campaign, 14 000 sashes were distributed to pedestrians through activations across the country. This includes the participation of 28 schools, along with 20 Ford dealers. Around 4 500 sashes have also been supplied to Ford employees.
The school programme educates students on road traffic signs and pedestrian safety, and they are encouraged and assisted to form road safety teams comprising teachers and scholars, whose responsibility it is to identify risks within the school environment and solve them. With the assistance of the school, teachers, parents, taxi drivers, and scholar transport providers are engaged to create a better understanding of the dangers of bad road behaviour.
Ford South Africa has partnered with the #CarseatFullstop initiative that was launched in 2016, which aims to ensure that every child travels in a car seat, every time.
According to the AA, only 7% of children in South Africa are strapped in when travelling in a car. “This is a scary statistic, considering that road accidents are the fourth leading cause of unnatural deaths in children,” says Mandy Lee Miller, founder of #CarseatFullstop. “Child safety seats reduce that risk by up to 71%, and are an essential safety device that must be used every time a child travels in a vehicle, no matter what.”
Ford will be providing the organisation with an Everest to run its educational initiatives, and work with Dealers across the country to promote the importance of car seats and fitting them correctly.
In addition to the wide range of visibility and education drives, Ford will also be expanding its support for the Air Angels emergency medical flight service operated by Flightshare and backed by Oneplan Health Insurance Five sponsored Ford Kugas were handed over to Air Angels/Flightshare in March this year, for use as rapid response and operational support for the helicopter EMS. Ford is expanding its involvement by providing an additional three vehicles – comprising two Ford Rangers and a Focus – for the festive period.
“Since the inception of Air Angels/Flightshare in March, we have completed over 3 350 hours on operational standby, and had 216 emergency dispatches,” says Lindsey Shelver of Air Angels/Flightshare. “Ford’s sponsored vehicles play a crucial role in the success of our helicopter EMS by getting our ground crew to the accident scene for the effective control of emergency landing zones.
“This enables us to deliver vital trauma care and get patients to the nearest hospital in the shortest possible time, thus helping save lives,” Shelver says. “The three additional vehicles are a greatly valued addition to our fleet during the extremely busy holiday season and we appreciate Ford’s ongoing support.”