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27 000 users cite SA's biggest killers on roads

2016-01-15 13:00

Janine Van der Post

LACK OF ENFORCEMENT: More than 8000 users believe lack of law enforcement can be blamed for the SA's high death toll. Image: ER24

Cape Town - The release of the 2015/16 festive season road deaths show a 14% increase in road deaths over the 2014/15 festive season, Wheels24 reported earlier in January.

The Department of Transport reports 1755 people lost their lives over 2015/2016 holiday period compared to 1535 deal toll in the 2014/2015 holiday period.

Justice Project South Africa said: "This represents an average of 42 road deaths per day is a sad indictment of the fact that little or no progress is being made in curtailing the carnage on our roads."

Read: Grim toll: Huge increase in SA road deaths

We asked News24 users what they believe is the biggest killer on our roads and more than 27 000 responded.

The majority of users (8492) say a lack of law enforcement is to blame (31%); 7364 drivers voted that speeding drivers were the second highest contributor (27%); 4532 attribute unroadworthy vehicles (17%) and 3882 users believe drunk drivers are the biggest killer (14%) with 3882 votes.

Only 7% (1974 votes) believe reckless pedestrians are to blame and 1164 believes SA's poor road conditions contribute to road deaths.

Wheels24 asked users for solutions to reduce South Africa's road death toll.

Here's what YOU said:

Leon Schnell says: Here are some technological options I know would make a huge difference:

1. More Average Speed Over Distance cameras: Wherever these are erected they're hugely effective, so as far as I'm concerned they can be rolled out absolutely everywhere ... on highways as well as along major city routes. They're on-duty 24/7, don't take any bribes, and have a massive calming influence over an entire route.

2. Citizen traffic officers: Enabling private drivers to hand over dashcam footage of illegal driving by third parties to the traffic officials, in a manner that this footage can be successfully used to prosecute bad drivers. This makes sense because regular drivers will be in all the places where traffic cops usually can't be, and you turn regular drivers into potential law-enforcers (by proxy). Sure there will be some technical headaches - e.g. creating tamper-proof dashcams, possibly subsidized by the State and car insurance companies (in whose interest this will be) - but I think it's possible.

3. Taking a virtual traffic officer in the car along with you: Going one-step further and requiring the mandatory installation of a 3G-equipped vehicle tracking unit with accelerometer installed into all new vehicles, and retro-fitted into used vehicles upon their sale. Based on personal experience (with Discovery Insure) these units are very effective in detecting all the usual indicators of bad driving: speeding, harsh braking, harsh cornering and harsh acceleration. In Discovery's case they use the data to reward good drivers, but the State could easily use this information to create a detailed driver profile and also incentivize good drivers (while penalizing bad drivers and outright fining illegal drivers who exceed local speed limits).

I am sick and tired of reading about South Africans moaning about crime in South Africa, and yet every single day I am passed by 80% of the cars on the road who are all exceeding the clearly posted traffic limits by at least 20km/h. Something needs to change, and if people cannot obey the law then the only thing that will work is to turn into a nanny state where impartial robots FORCE moderate driving (which still doesn't necessary equate to safe, but is at least safer).

Sandy says: No matter how many laws are in place we still have uneducated drivers doing crazy things, if one dares leave a safe gap it is filled by some idiot weaving in and out of traffic. Drivers don't seem to realise the simple consequences of their crazy actions. Broadcast horrific sights, sounds and scenes of smashes and try and din it into heads that this WILL happen to you too!

Deon Louw from Cape Town says: 50% of road deaths are pedestrians. Law enforcement and education of children and adults are essential in this regard. Pedestrians on National roads should be picked up by police and traffic officers, removed from these roads and fined. Enforcing this law should be able to lower road deaths.

Ralph Geldenhuys says: I believe stricter testing is needed before you are awarded your licence. And I am not talking about the ridiculous K53 system. I am talking about advanced driving instruction. You must be able to drive properly in all conditions. I drive a lot with the job I do and I see people every day that has no business behind the steering wheel of any vehicle. If you can't drive, get a bicycle.

Read: '11 ways to reduce SA road deaths'

Iain Lang says: I am an ex-policeman (not RSA) but I have had a lot of experience with accidents. One method I used, when running Police stations covering long length of National road, was to:

  • Have a map of the road in question, marked in half-kilometre spaces (as per the markings on the sides of the roads)
  • Create a colour code for each type of accident – i.e. the cause of the accident.
  • Create a 24/7 clock which showed the 24 hours of the day in segments and the day of the week in concentric circles.
  • Create a log of the accidents numbering from 1 onwards, showing the date, time and place of each incident. Each number being marked with a pin of the colour relevant to the cause of the accident. If numbered from 1-50, when the list reaches 50, the top 10 are removed and the log starts again from the top. This ensures the map is up to date, thereby allowing for any changes in tactics on the road.
  • Each accident, using the Log numbers, is marked on the map and the 24/7 clock, which effectively shows where, when, and what happened.

Road patrols and blocks are then carried out according to the prevalent causes of the accidents. i.e. if the main cause is pedestrians, checking vehicles is not the priority – controlling pedestrians is; If the problem is cattle – patrolling the sides of the road is relevant to ensure cattle owners control their cattle; If the problem is speeding (long straights) – speed traps or simulated speed trapping; If mechanical failures on steep or winding toads -  roadworthy checks.

It is a matter of “horses for courses”. At one station I commanded, I cut the death rate by 50% by putting simulated speed traps in areas where this was the predominant cause.

I hope this is of some use – you cannot cure a problem without looking into the causes, which may vary from point to point. Research of some type is required."

Jean Duvenhage says: "Government is living in an illusion. I drove from Plettenberg Bay to Pretoria without over-nighting. We started at 7am Monday Jan 4 2016 in the morning.

We encountered no traffic officials on the road until halfway past Colesberg. Then we suddenly got 5 speedtraps from traffic officials and two stationary police vehicles up to Bloemfontein. After Bloemfontein we got another 2 speed traps but then no traffic officials until we got home in Pretoria.

We did encounter “national” traffic officials (black VW Golf GTI’s) from Gauteng on their way back towards Gauteng wherever they came from. There were about 3 of them. They also broke the law by excessive speeding and passing on the solid white line (nice example to the rest of the public!). 

Where were the officials during the rest of our trip? I saw numerous persons not just ignoring the traffic signs but blatantly driving on the wrong side of the road regardless if there where oncoming traffic or not.

Reducing speed is not going to solve the problem. Only physical patrolling the roads will make people think twice. Speed trapping does not deter those who endanger other road users. The only real solutions is physical patrolling and enforcing the law by being on the road itself and looking for perpetrators. When encountering  them they need to belt with. With the full force of the law.

Werner Hattingh says: Reckless, bad and just incapable driving is one of the biggest problems but the lazy cops just want to sit behind a speed trap. Speed is an amplifier not a cause. Stop the cause and the speed does not matter. 

David Ledbitter says: The first order of business should be to reduce the fixation with speeding and hiding in bushes.  
Visible policing and patrolling has a far higher impact on driver behaviour; driver’s slow down, they don’t overtake over solid lines, indicate and so on.
Why authorities only talk about speeding is beyond comprehension – around half of road fatalities are pedestrians, then there are head-on collisions, overtaking over solid lines, overtaking on blind rises and so on.
On a trip to Mpumalanga Lowveld in September 2015, I saw the worst driving ever (39 years on the road). Between Millys and Machadodorp, two cars raced past a line of traffic stuck behind a vehicle – solid lines, blind rises and so on. Oncoming traffic was forced off the road. The same happened again between White River and Hazyview at night.
Until this behaviour is changed, nothing will happen to the death toll figure...and reducing the speed limit will simply enrich authorities.
Get patrolling – all the time.

Read more on:    south africa  |  road deaths

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