NATIONAL NEWS - It’s that time of the year when South Africa’s road users gear up to fling themselves down her highways with the anticipation of relaxing over a long weekend, yet many will arrive at their destination as a newspaper headline.
“The impact of road crashes and fatalities cuts across racial, class, age, gender, language and cultural divides,” said Transport Minister Blade Nzimande at the launch of the Arrive Alive campaign yesterday.
“It has an immense impact on all aspects of society, robbing communities of people who are in the prime of their lives, affecting productivity and placing significant burdens on the state and organisations who have to care for victims of road crashes.”
With a year-on-year increase since 2016 in road fatalities, Nzimande is once again hoping to curb road deaths with the same plan as previous years.
However, he’s facing bad-driver attitudes and he has been disarmed with the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Bill still lying on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s desk.
In 2017, the Automobile Association (AA) conducted a study on driver attitudes which found “88% of motorists believe adherence to road rules is worse since 2015, which is consistent across provinces with results ranging between 83% to 100%”.
It noted at the time that “these results are actually quite breathtaking as they seem to indicate, once again, that motorists believe the problems on South African roads are someone else’s fault.”
And little has changed, Automobile Association spokesperson Layton Beard told The Citizen yesterday.
“We agree with the minister when he says road safety is not government’s responsibility alone.
“I think in South Africa there seems to be this misconception that road safety begins and ends with the government, or law enforcement, or the traffic police. It does not.”
According to the electronic national administration traffic information system (eNatis), there were 11,328,256 registered vehicles on South Africa’s roads on March 31.
Nzimande noted that this year’s Easter period includes Freedom Day (April 27) and Workers’ Day (May 1) commemorations as well as the national elections on May 8.