'It's YOUR fault you're dying'

2012-12-10 09:40

PRETORIA - Most road deaths are caused by irresponsible human behaviour so people need road-safety education, national transport minister Ben Martins claims.

The Justice Project, however, said he was talking rubbish.

Martins said on Sunday (Dec 10 2012) at the launch of a Christmas holiday road safety campaign that "the human factor" accounted for 82.2% of road deaths during the 2010 and 2011 year-end holidays.


Speeding, driving after consuming alcohol, tiredness, unroadworthy vehicles and drunk pedestrians were blamed for most of the human culling. "This," Martins said: "meant law enforcement officers were not solely responsible for curbing accidents but that road users had to make a conscious decision not to break the law on the road.

"We should place more emphasis on education, public awareness and compliance with the law. "The road-safety campaign should become a daily pre-occupation."

The Justice Project SA, however, has described Martins' statement as "horrifying".

Its chairman, Howard Dembovsky, said: "Given the fact that very little traffic law enforcement for moving violations other than speeding takes place in South Africa, it is ridiculous that such a statement should be made.”

He said if traffic policing did not improve "we will not see a 50% reduction on road deaths by 2020". "You simply cannot excuse improper and corrupt traffic -aw enforcement by saying 'people should comply voluntarily'.”

Martins said his department would work closely with, among others, the Road Traffic Management Corporation, the Road Accident Fund, the Cross-Border Road Traffic Agency and the Road Traffic Infringement Agency and "prioritise roads where there were high accident rates".


RTMC acting CEO Collins Letsoalo said "poor human behaviour" had been noted when traffic cops were not usually on duty. Most fatal accidents happened between 10pm and 6am, Thursday nights to Sunday mornings. He did not specify, given the absence of traffic copsy, who was doing the "noting".

He was sure most fatal collisions over Christmas and New Year would be "head-ons" because drivers "insisted on driving even when they were tired". He also warned where NOT to drive: the country's most dangerous road was the R61, on the N6 between the N2 and Oslo Beach, south of Queenstown in the Eastern Cape.

Traffic cops would be visible and ready to arrest anybody who drove illegally, he threatened.


  • mogo.naut - 2012-12-10 11:09

    "We should place more emphasis on education, public awareness and compliance with the law. "The road-safety campaign should become a daily pre-occupation." Yeah, And there's no other way to educate the general public other than the eisbein sitting under a tree all day pretending to play space invaders.

      chez.kri - 2012-12-10 14:23

      @mogo. So you need someone to tell you to drive at a safe speed? You need that man under a tree to stop you and tell you that driving drunk is not a good idea? Really? Are you that stupid that you can't figure that out for yorself? You think we need a man in uniform to educate us before we can know that driving while sleepy is not a good idea? Speak for yourself; I figured it out meyself. Perhaps YOU need to learn responsibility and teach it to your children.

      mogo.naut - 2012-12-10 17:12

      Chez, "You think we need a man in uniform to educate us before we can know that driving while sleepy is not a good idea" - YES, A simple road block checking for driver fatigue can save lives. People also "buy" their licenses. Those same people are likely the ones committing traffic offenses, but they get away with it simply because no is there to tell them otherwise. Also, People cut traffic red traffic lights, don't stop at stop streets, talk on the phones and overtake on a solid line BECAUSE IT'S convenient. There's countless times where I've seen cops witness other cars breaking the law in front of them, but bother to do farkall.

  • robbie.crouch - 2012-12-10 12:21

    Fixing the roads may help too... show me the road without potholes minister?

  • Jeremy - 2012-12-10 12:35

    I think Ben Martins is right. But there's no question that the reason so many people are badly behaved on the roads is because so many have received drivers licenses by way of bribery. The going rate these days I'm told is around R2 500. So Mr Martins, if you really want to do something about bad behaviour on the roads, how about starting with ensuring that licenses are obtained according to ability and attitude rather than according to how much the tester can fleece from the applicant!!

      chez.kri - 2012-12-10 14:20

      @jeremy. And the drivers could refuse to pay bribes. We are responsible for our own mindset. Why do we need to be told not to pay bribes, not to drive drunk, not to drive while tired, not to speed, not to overtake on blind rises? The police are not our parents and we are not children.

  • prince.cloete - 2012-12-10 13:32

    The minister is right here. Almost all road accidents are caused by the irresponsible driving habits on our roads. What justification is there for someone who decides to overtake on a bend - which is illegal and highly dangerous - only to end up driving head-on with another oncoming vehicle. We, as drivers choose to either obey the rules or break them. For many it is a choice that they will not live to regret, unfortunately.

  • shaun.knoesen.9 - 2012-12-10 13:44

    For once an ANC official says something I totallt agree with..... South Africans all think they are Michael Shumacher on the road....

  • erik.p.vanwyk - 2012-12-10 14:11

    Even if you do get your drivers license the legal way I still feel its too easy.Take example Finland and the Nordic countries, it takes a new learner about 4 to 6 months to get n drivers but driving and instructing are very comprehensive.The Fins are the best driving population in the world so it says quite a lot.I do believe that a drivers height should also determine whether you obtain a license.Driving while peeking through the steering wheel and dash can not be safe.

  • avanwyk2 - 2012-12-10 15:21

    So basically this person says that if another person do not stop at a red traffic light, drives into and you are killed, it is your own fault. Who is this idiot?

      vino.reddy.0 - 2012-12-11 17:26

      not bquite...its not your fault, rather the other driver whose "human Behaviour" i.e bad driving habits, led to the accident

  • peter.allderman - 2012-12-10 20:59

    and what do you do about people who obviously break the law? Often right in front of traffic police and SAPS? And do the authorities have no culpability because there is no to little effective policing of road rules? If the President can spend hundreds of millions of tax payers money on his private residence is it small wonder that a few 'minor' road infractions are considered inconsequent by most road users?

  • Mandy Casey - 2012-12-10 23:53

    How many drunk pedestrians have been arrested? They also cause accidents as stated in story.

  • vino.reddy.0 - 2012-12-11 17:23

    yes...SA has a high holiday death toll which is very sad. However a large percetage of that is attributable to pedestrians. It is Govt responsibility to provide safe passage for pedestrians by providing pavements and safe crossings. However emphesis should be placed on public transport, notably taxis, by creatting and forcing them to pick-up/drop-off at designated areas....not anywhere along the road where theres a passenger. But our police focus their attention on soft targets(motorists) rather than buses and taxis who create traffic congestion leading to frustrated motorists and ultimately dangerous overtaking.

  • don.odendaal - 2013-02-22 08:45

    Mr Martins Once again nothing will improve driving habits like having a police cruiser in your rear view mirror and knowing if you do something stupid you are getting pulled over and fined. Hiding in bushes has nothing to do with road safety. Arrest Jay walkers and drunk pedestrians, impound vehicles of drunk drivers and lock them up.

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