AA - SA roads most dangerous

2010-03-16 22:09

Johannesburg – South African roads were fast becoming known as the most dangerous in the world, the Automobile Association (AA) said on Tuesday.

In a scathing statement, it blamed the high accident rate on poor law enforcement, bad road conditions and reckless driving.

"South African roads are fast acquiring a reputation as being some of the most dangerous in the world," said AA public affairs head Gary Ronald.

"The equivalent of at least ten schools' learners are killed every year on South African roads."

"This is partly due to road conditions and vehicle roadworthiness but more so because of road user attitude."

Ronald said a combination of factors were to blame, including "poor law enforcement, blatant disregard for the law by drivers and the shockingly inept systems that are currently in place when it comes to prosecuting road offenders".

Ronald specifically pointed out the taxi industry, saying there were several examples of reckless and inappropriate behaviour.

Drinking and driving

But other road users were also guilty – especially when it came to drinking and driving.

"It is still considered 'cool' in many conversations when a person mentions how they effortlessly managed to drive home after one too many at the bar; how they managed to sweet-talk themselves out of jail by greasing a few palms; how they skipped a red traffic light and lived to tell the tale – the list goes on," said Ronald.

"Our country's enforcement leaves much to be desired, and it's becoming apparent that it will take more than speed cameras and random road blocks to curb reckless on-the-road behaviour."

Shock tactics were not going to work on a public that lived with the daily reality of violent crimes.

"What we need is for government to put in the same efforts and energy that went into recent smoking legislation into the transport and road fraternities; to be relentless in enforcing rules and to introduce a national zero-tolerance attitude towards road offenders," said Ronald.

Several South African newspapers have been reporting on bad road conditions and poor law enforcement recently, with The Star newspaper reporting this week that hundreds of drunken driving cases could collapse because of the suspension of the breathalyser test.

Meanwhile, the Afrikaans daily Beeld on Tuesday said there were 5 648 potholes in roads in the North West province.