According to statistics released last week, this past festive season, South Africa had 1118 fatal crashes with 1368 fatalities. Every year, the Transport Minister Dipuo Peters, warns road users to show caution over the festive period; however the above mentioned stats prove that warnings often go unnoticed – with speeding, and drivers under the influence, often taking others lives into their own hands.
Looking at the problem from up top, in Africa specifically, while it possesses only 2% of all the world’s vehicles, 20% of all road deaths happen on our continent. With the start of a new year, IMPERIAL road safety sets out 3 resolutions for drivers to adopt, to make a commitment to theirs and the safety of other road users.
Drinking and Driving
First and foremost, the biggest threat to road safety in South Africa is alcohol. However, with the variety of ‘take me home services’ available on ones mobile, there is absolutely no reason to drink and drive.
This year, commit to sign up with a company who will pick you up in your vehicle and drive you home, or mobile apps, that allow you to locate and book the nearest cab to your location. Research from Uber in Seattle specifically, has found that through the use of the app by the network of residents in the city, there has been a recorded decease in DUI’s of more than 10%!
Texting and Driving
While we can all agree that texting and driving is dangerous – many people do it anyway. A recent study by Market and Opinion Firm Ipsos, which polled 14 160 drivers, found that South Africa was one of the countries with the highest proportion of participants (41%) guilty of texting, emailing or using social media whilst driving. Since texting slows down break-reaction speed by 18%, realising the need to break will always come too late.
The one moment in time when you are distracted and skip a robot or a child runs out into the road can mean the difference between life and death and no text message is worth jeopardising yourself or someone else’s life. The best way to make sure you don’t text and drive is to put your mobile phone out of reach, either in your boot or underneath the seat at the back of the car.
Put your safety belt on as you sit down
In early December last year, a horrific accident, caught on a driver’s dashcam, shows a man being flown out of his vehicle on Cape Town’s N2 highway, after he crashed into a concrete barrier. The man, who was killed on impact, is a terrifying real-life example of the realities of what could happen if you chose not to wear a seat belt.
Think about it like this – if you aren’t wearing a belt, first there is the car’s impact with whatever it hits. In the seconds it takes for the vehicle to crumple and come to a stop, you are still travelling at the same speed the car was going before the crash and by not wearing a seat belt, you will hurtle forward, until colliding with some part of the vehicle, passengers, windshield and road. When getting into a vehicle, pull the belt across your lap and pelvis area (never across your stomach), while the shoulder belt should sit snugly across your collarbone and chest. If you are a parent, keep in mind that car seatbelts are only designed for an adult’s body. Invest in a good quality car seat – the right one for your child’s weight, not age – to snugly and comfortably hold them in place too while in a vehicle.
By making at least three positive lifestyle changes on the road, think of the number of lives that can be saved, including your own!