78 die and ANC wants self-help system!

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 SELF-HELP FOR ROAD SAFETY: Do you agree with minister Dipuo Peters’ sentiments on road users educating one another? Email us and we’ll publish your thoughts . Image: SHUTTERSTOCK ~ Shutterstock
JOHANNESBURG, Gauteng - National transport minister Dipuo Peters has urged South Africans to educate one another about road safety, especially during peak seasons.

To which Wheels24 replies: "We have TV stations, radio, newspapers, the internet - why not use them for education?"

Instead, Peters told NGO's in Midrand, Gauteng: "Let us be each other's keepers."

The responsibility for road safety could not be left only to traffic law enforcement agencies.

To which Wheels24 responds: "The whole nation is aware of that! It's been the case for many years which is why so many families are today mourning their dead."

Peters added: "We invite everyone to open up and say what is it that we are not doing which could change the tragic picture of crashes on our roads, and get each person to take responsibility for themselves and others."

To which Wheels24 says: "The people of South Africa have been telling you for years that more visible road policing and serious penalties for corrupt traffic cops, licence issuers and vehicle testers are needed."

The department, she said, would hold a regular series of interactions with the public to increase awareness of road safety. It also intended establishing a special telephone number for members of the public to report reckless driving.

To which Wheels24 says: "Does the minister actually believe this will resolve things?"

"All major road accidents," Peters said, "could have been avoided. In the past 18 days during which 78 people died and 79 were injured due to recklessness."

Below is the minister's entire speech, unedited by Wheels24. It's long, but please take time to read it, then email us with your views, ideas, comments - any positive suggestions to help the people who should already be doing it to change the horror movie that South African roads have become.


Programme Director, Deputy Minister, Honorable MEC Ismail Vadi, Representatives from our Non-Governmental Organizations, Our Transport Entities, Ladies and Gentlemen

Today's gathering is a little different from many others. This, because what we, from the Department of Transport are not going to say, is what Department wants to do, but rather to ask you what we together can do for our roads to be safe conduits to our fellow citizens' ideal destinations during the festive season and beyond.

In fact we're here to invite you to a partnership that commits all of us to communicate our common desire to end road carnage in our country, call on every South African to educate each other

Under the theme, “365 Days of Active Partnership and Ambassadorship towards Road Safety,” we invite all and everyone to open up and say what it is that we are not doing which could change the tragic picture of crashes on our roads and how do we get each South African to responsibility for themselves and for others

While we will share statistics that paints a horrendous  picture of crashes witnessed on our roads, especially during peak seasons , we'd dare to say that even if it was only one person who died on our roads a year, it would still be one person too many.

Just to share the tragic headlines that must bind us to an active partnership towards safer roads, let us reflect on what happened in the last eighteen days;

In Gauteng 2 major crashes on M35 and N14,
In KwaZulu Natal 3 major crashes on P197, R66 and R103,
In North West 2 major crashes on R510 and N12,
In Eastern Cape 2 major crashes on R61 and N2,
In Mpumalanga 1 major crash on D797,
In Limpopo 1 major crash on N1.

I would like us to note that these crashes are major crashes, which exclude other daily crashes that remain unreported and away from the glare of our media cameras. You may also be interested to know that these exclude the latest Moloto road crash, which claimed 29 lives and a huge number of injuries. I would also like to bring to our attention the fact that these crashes occurred on every single day of the week. What is even more alarming is the fact that, on the face of it, these could have been avoided, and almost all of them could be attributed to driver error, a euphemism for reckless, disrespectful and anti-social conduct on the part of one or the other party to the incidents. These were;

- 6 were head on collisions,
- 2 were vehicles overturning,
- 2 were sideswipe opposite directions,
- 1 was head-rear-end crashes.

From these crashes, 78 people died and 79 were injured, in some cases, permanently so. Information gleaned from reports at our disposal points to the following conduct on the part of one or the party to the crash;

- Unlawful and unsafe overtaking in 6 cases,
- Failure to keep vehicle under control in 3 cases,
- Intoxication in 1 case,
- Unlawful and unsafe U-turn in 1 case.

These are only from screaming headlines, statistics that we seem to have become socialized to, from incidents that could, most probably, have been avoided, committed, most shamelessly, by us and our fellow South Africans and, resulting in loss of life of breadwinners, parents, children and able bodied and economically active adults,

As Minister of Transport in the country and team transport, it has come to our sad observation that whilst all of us are concerned about the carnage on our roads – especially during Christmas and other peak seasons, not all of us, both as individual citizens and as sectors of society, are doing what we could to drastically bring down crashes, resultant fatalities and injuries on our roads. I have no doubt that whenever we are in families and in workplaces, in recreational places of worship, in our tweets and in our face -book conversations, in government and outside government; we have all expressed a thought about safety on our roads. This is so because road crash victims are not just faceless and alien species fathers, sons and daughters.

We have spoken about this and continue to do so. Even government spends enormous amounts of money and time to stem the tide, to very little avail. In all without families, colleagues, fellow worshipers, wives, husbands, mothers, that we think, say and do we lack a strong communication effort, combining all of the isolated initiatives in a partnership that will bind all of us to the responsibility of ambassadorship on road safety.

As government also, we have not created enough platform for every one of us to make their voice heard and their effort galvanized. We have left the responsibility for safety on the roads to our already overstretched traffic law enforcement officers, with occasional support from the police. We also tend to believe that only certain days of the year require us to pay attention and that the rest of the days call for complacence and negligent conduct on the part of road users.

We have come to see enforcement and education as tools and functions that we can invoke at one point and revoke at another, leaving us with a culture that says; to us life matters on some days and not necessarily on others. A huge section of our motorists, passengers and pedestrians alike, conduct themselves in a manner that calls for serious introspection and corrective action.

As a result of the enunciated failings, our country loses resources and opportunities that could go a long way in accelerating development in many critical socio-economic areas. Many lives are cut short, scores of able bodied persons suddenly lose normal use of their limbs and become overnight dependents on often overstretched poor families, careers are prematurely ended and futures are blacked out. The country spends huge amounts of money on emergency and post-crash care services and the welfare system is placed under serious pressure.

We have said what needs to be said about government responsibility to its citizens. We have read what the media write about these tragic crashes. We have buried and continue to bury victims of a behavior that borders on patent recklessness. We have also seen broken families, careers terminated and futures blacked out by these crashes.

What we may not have done, or done sufficiently, is to come out as a massive and collective force to push for change in this area of our life. We have seen very little collaboration in communicating the importance of road safety. We have seen and heard many well-meaning voices like “full many a-roses that blush unseen and waste its sweetness in the desert air.”

We hope that from this initial interaction with the media as a player we'll derive much leverage in communicating far and wide, the gospel truth about what is it we are not doing right and how we commit to a partnership and ambassadorship to get it right.

We hope that our commitments to the international community will be met, which is to halve road crashes by half of what they were in 2011, come 2020. The United Nations Decade of Action on Road Safety should serve as our compass to steer our country from this man-made scourge. Not our should we halve these numbers, but we should aim to surpass the target and make our country an destination of choice for tourists, for investors, but above all, for our own citizens.

Ladies and gentlemen, country men, let me welcome you all to this, our launch initiative with the media for partnership and ambassadorship– which will be followed by a series of such interactions arranged by our transport entities on a regular basis.

The floor is all yours.

I thank you.