SA suffers festive season road carnage

2013-12-27 10:41
Johannesburg  - An estimated 855 people have died in more than 700 car accidents since the beginning of December - confirming an International Transport Forum’s 2013 Road Safety report, ranking SA as the worst in global road safety.

Transport Minister Dipuo Peters blames the harrowing festive season statistics on dangerous overtaking, driver fatigue, excessive speed and driving under the influence of alcohol.

According to the Transport Forum's safety report South Africa is the worst out of 36 countries surveyed, with an average of 27.6 road deaths for every 100,000 inhabitants - based on statistics for 2011.

Provisional data for 2012 showed fatalities from crashes had decreased slightly to 12 200, as opposed to the 14 000 seen in 2011.
The country second to SA in poor road safety is Malaysia with 23.8 for every 100 000 inhabitants, while South Argentina and Colombia reached a total of 12, North America rated 10.4 and Australia reflects a total 5.6 road deaths. 
The report also details the  economic cost to be in the region of R307-billion each year - adding to the strain on Transnet's ambitious seven-year infrastructure build programme.

If you're planning a road trip over the next few days, here are some tips to follow while travelling:

Assume everyone else is an idiot
This really is the golden rule of the road and basically comes down to this: you have to think for your fellow drivers. By being alert and aware of what's happening around you at all times, the chances are good that you will be able to act proactively to avoid an accident.

Two hour driving shifts

If you're on a long journey, divide the driving time into two hour shifts, taking turns behind the wheel with other eligible drivers in the car. If there are no other eligible drivers, the rule still applies to you. It's important to rest, stretch your legs and freshen up every two hours, else your attention will start wavering.

No fidgeting

Fiddling with your cell phone or the radio while driving is an absolute no-no, yet most of us are guilty of doing this on quite a regular basis. However, it's just that split moment of distraction

Keep you cell phone charged

Sometimes it seems like we've become a bunch of wussies when it comes to communication. In the old days people would set out on journeys, hoping that maybe somewhere along the way they'd be able to make contact with their family from a pay phone. These days we have our cell phones glued to our sides constantly and can't bear the thought of losing reception for a few moments.

Whatever your thoughts may be about this, the fact is, cell phones are an incredibly useful tool to harness while travelling and could also be a lifesaver in many crisis situations. So, make sure that your cell phone (or at least one among your travelling companions) is always fully charged while driving. The best way to ensure this, is to have a charger you can plug into your car's USB port, or for the more old school among us, cigarette lighter.

Never drive in the yellow line

Even when someone's sitting on your tail, trying to push you off the road. And especially at night. While the yellow line may be completely clear 99% of the time, you do not want to be part of that 1% who hit a stray object, animal, or worst of all, pedestrian appearing only when it's too late.

Be patient

Being stuck in traffic is one of those things in life that you really have no control over. So if you find yourself in this situation, somehow, while road tripping, just relax. Pump some cool tunes, chat to your travel companions and try to just soak up the scenery. Being impatient and trying to push your way to the front of the queue will just aggravate the situation and could inspire anything from road rage to an unexpected accident.

Check out the AA website for more vehicle and road safety tips


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