1714 road fatalities are too many

2017-01-12 10:20

Statistics have a tendency to mask the humanity behind the numbers. Road fatality statistics released by SA transport minister Dipuo Peters reveal  that 1714 people have been killed on South African roads from December 1, 2016 to January 9, 2017. This article is dedicated to all the 1714 people who lost their lives during this period and to their family and friends left behind.

These people are not just numbers, they are fathers, mothers, children, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles to someone. 1714 breadwinners, newly qualified professionals, matriculants, business people, professionals have lost their lives due to irresponsible and reckless driving amongst other factors.

According to Transport Minister Dipuo Peters‚ when the department released the mid-month festive season assessment‚ human factors (i.e. drunk driving, speeding, cellphone usage) contributed 82% to fatal crashes while road and environmental factors 10% and vehicle factors (faulty brakes, unroadworthy vehicles etc) 8%.

Somewhere out there a child is now going to grow up fatherless or motherless because someone saw it fit to get behind the wheel after drinking. A parent did not get to see their child starting school with their peers yesterday because their child who was walking with his friends from the shops got struck by a drunk driver. Of the 1714, 34% were pedestrians. There is a bright student whose light was put out and did not get to enjoy the fruit of their labour in the 2016 matric exams. Passengers accounted for 40% of deaths this year.

Planning a wedding takes time and effort. After all the ups and downs, back and forth with service providers, the bride to be was looking forward to her special day. Everything started out fine and she was getting ready to go to the wedding venue. Suddenly one of her aunts stood by the door with a worried look on her face. The news was eventually broken to her, the car in which her fiance was in got involved in a headon collision. The driver and the fiance had died on the spot. 24% of the 1714 were drivers. According to the statistics released by the Ministry of Transport, 75% of the 1714 fatalities were men.

Some best friends since kindergarten had big plans they aimed to fulfill after university. Their Matric results came out and they had passed with Bachelor’s passes. While getting ready for this next chapter of their lives, the story for one of them was cut short when they got added to the 1714.

Being the first to go to university after obtaining NSFAS funding- he was the hope for his family. Despite the disruptions wrought about by the #FeesMustFall protests, he had managed to complete his studies in 2016. After having found a job and looking forward to start working in January, his family was rejoicing for their life was going to take a different trajectory. Unfortunately, their hopes and aspirations have been dashed. They got news that he passed on in a road accident when a drunk driver slammed into their taxi after failing to negotiate a bend in the road. He too is one of the 1714.

It was just a day like any other when he would go cycling out of town to do his routine exercises in preparations for the road races in the coming year. This day however turned out to be different. Just as he was finishing his 10km ride and was about to turn back, he heard the sound of a blaring horn and screeching brakes. As he was trying to register what was happening it was too late, the vehicle whose brakes had failed knocked him and he was flung onto the tarmac. Although he was wearing a helmet, the force of the impact was too much such that he became one of the 2% of cyclists who are got tallied to the 1714.

On behalf of my family and myself, we pass our sincere condolences to the family friends and loved ones of the 1714. Our prayers are with you. We pray that the Holy Spirit will comfort you during this time.

To the whole nation, I plead that this figure 1714 will become etched into your minds. May you know there is face to each of the numbers 1 to 1714. Each of these souls that have departed is ONE TOO MANY! As you drive on our nation’s roads, may you be concious that the decisions you make have far reaching implications for you and other road users.

If your vehicle is unroadworthy, please don’t put it on the road...it’s not worthy. If you have had some alcohol- do not drink and drive. There are many taxi services and driver assist services to ‘Take you home.’ When travelling for long distances- observe the guideline of stopping to rest after every 2 hours, break the trip into phases, stop and rest if feeling tired. Make sure your brakes are in good working condition. Stick to the speed limits, they are there for a reason.

To licensing department officials corruptly issuing driver's licenses...may the following be on your conscience- some of those who caused the loss of lives are people who you issued licenses to but were not fit/ready to be on the road; CHANGE YOUR WAYS.

To all drivers and passengers, the first thing you should do before you drive off is to BUCKLE UP!

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