Johannesburg - The South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) is calling for a different approach to enforce responsible driving by South African road users in order to avoid carnage.
Sanco spokesperson Jabu Mahlangu said the importance of responsible driving should be instilled in pupils while at primary school.
"Unless you start there, consciousness about responsible driving would be difficult to inculcate at a later stage. We need to conscientise people for them to see the wrong," he said.
Mahlangu said, in addition to encouraging the public to change their behaviour on the roads, monitoring by law enforcement agencies was also important.
"There is a need for more effective monitoring that will ensure people avoid doing wrong. The fact that people know that they can get away with murder by bribing officials makes the situation worse.
"Drunken driving, speeding and corruption related to issuing of drivers' licences, and traffic officers overlooking road offences for bribes represents the biggest threat to road safety," he said.
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Mahlangu said that fast-tracking the implementation of the point demerit system, as well as zero tolerance by road traffic enforcement, would assist in eliminating reckless drivers and vehicles that were not roadworthy from public roads.
He said tough measures - such as stiffer fines, suspension and cancellation of licences, and forfeiture of cars - would contribute toward safer roads.
Mahlangu said that Sanco had been making these calls from before December 2016, but that there was a need react to certain road accidents - like the minibus crash that claimed the lives of 18 pupils and two adults in Mpumalanga last week.
"That accident was really horrific. It has devastated families that are still struggling to come to terms with the loss of their children, as well as communities from which they come from, and the entire nation is in shock," he said.
The Bronkospruit community, where the accident happened, was traumatised, and more people were shying away from the road, Mahlangu said.
"I met with kids and parents who were travelling on a different vehicle, next to the minibus that got involved. Some teachers have resigned at the schools where they were teaching because they don't want to see themselves inside vehicles anymore. Other children now have to change schools so they can attend ones that are close by, where they won’t need a transport.
"But that is going to affect their performance at school because they are sometimes forced to attend schools where their mother tongue languages are not offered."
He added that efforts need to be doubled to provide safer scholar transport, and to rid the traffic law enforcement agencies of corrupt elements that were putting lives at risk.