Road deaths: Attitude to blame?

2012-10-23 14:29

CAPE TOWN - The attitude of South African drivers is the main cause of death on the country’s roads - at least according to roads and transport department deputy director-general James Mlawu.

Mlawu claimed: "It's about the attitude that our drivers have to what it means to be on the roads. It is a shared space. It is a space that you and I use and therefore there has to be consideration for others.

"In South Africa, it seems to me that a large majority of our drivers do not realise that driving on the road is a privilege.


He was speaking at a road safety conference in Boksburg, east of Johannesburg, and added: "You’ve been given a privilege to share the space with others. You can’t behave as if you are alone.

"We need to get into a mode in this country where it is not the court that has to find you guilty, you have to have the conscience to say: "I am with other people in this space, let me be considerate'."

According to the Road Traffic Management Corporation, road accidents cost the country R300-billion a year with an estimated 14 000 people killed each year on the country’s roads.

Mlawu said other factors, such as road conditions and the roadworthiness of vehicles, were part of the government’s focus to reduce road carnage.

Share your views on the deputy director's statements in our Readers'  Comments below or email us and we'll publish your article on Wheels24.

Wheels24 says: Good try sir, but we have to disagree. Half of all road deaths - which informed estimates put at closer to 20 000 a year, thanks to bad reporting at hospitals and police stations - are pedestrians, most of whom are (or, in this case, once were) in the ANC's constituency. Corruption at licensing centres and among traffic cops, lack of road-safety training at schools, failure to use SABC-TV as a road-safety training tool and sheer driving incompetence (not attitude) are the root of this evil.

They all lie at your department's front door, sir.

Reader: Driving is a paradox

Reader: Reduce the speed limit
Reader: Try to obey the rules
Reader: Driver attitude to blame
Reader: Driver's disregard the rules


  • liezl.haramis.7 - 2012-10-23 14:49

    Attitude...a joke! Incompetence and corruption clearly. A Privilege...we are paying for those roads. If government stopped spending ALL tax money in themselves buying jets and financing their blue light brigades, everything, including roads and attitudes will improve!!!

  • Jeremy - 2012-10-23 15:11

    The response from Wheels24 is spot on! Bad attitude is definitely a factor, but there's absolutely no doubt that a complete lack of awareness by pedestrians is a major contributor - as is corruption at testing centres and, in particular, during driving tests. Anybody who'se tried to get a drivers license over the past few years will know there's a bribe to be paid (currently around R3 000) if you're to be passed. I was amused to hear the MEC for Transport, Ismail Vadi, on 702 complaining that his daughter had been asked for the bribe and, when she'd told the tester her father was MEC for transport, the guy merely asked for a smaller bribe! It would be hilarious if it wasn't so tragic...

      denis.dendrinos - 2012-10-23 16:28

      110%!!!!! Evident is when you hoot at a transgressor and they flip you off for hooting to avoid an accident or at frustration of their stupidity! Times I've been flipped off, laughed at and physically threatened (the guy in a silver Jeep in Edenvale making fists and telling me I must pull over and he is going to f me up) for: Not stopping at a stop street at all despite it not being your turn Tail gating the person in front of you at a stop street even when it is not your turn Being cut off by the guy in Jeep when he was in right turning lane. Then despite seeing me comming decides at last minute to cut in front of me into a straight only lane. Driving far to close and far to fast behind me simply because you not not agree with my speed, even though I am approaching my right turn. Attitude in deed, and scant regards for others or the basic laws of the road.

  • frank.vankaapstad - 2012-10-23 15:12

    I absolutely agree with Mlawu. Having driven extensively in the US, UK and Europe I have noticed the extra aggression in the driving style of South African drivers. And this isn't only a racial thing. Yes the taxi drivers are shocking, but equally so is the white guy driving his BMW 2 inches behind me at 120km/h. It is as if South Africans leave all sensibility and caution behind when they get into their cars. A car driven by the wrong person is a weapon and these weapons are killing thousands of people every year. People need to keep their egos in check when driving and be patient and careful. If someone else is driving like a maniac there is no need to do the same. Attitudes have to change.

  • hamish.drake1 - 2012-10-23 15:14

    Absolutely agree with Wheels24's comment.

  • paul.may.5661 - 2012-10-23 15:21

    I actually think he is 100% spot on. If people on the road had an iota of consideration for other people, our roads would be much safer. The amount of drivers that disregard the basic rules of road is ridiculous! A few examples are: not indicated when changing lanes, driving on the bumper of the car in front, crossing solid white lines, not to mention speeding! People seem to think they can do as they please, but still scream at taxi drivers who do the same. I think we should look at ourselves first before passing judgement on others. I dare you, try and obey all the rules and you will have a much more relaxed time on the road.

  • issa.kabudula - 2012-10-23 15:25

    My friend who is also a daily sun reporter told me that 30 - 40 people die every day only on our roads. South Africa got the best road network than other many African or western countries but why? My finding is that; 1. Many drivers almost 79% never attended a lesson on driving 2. 50% never red a drivers manual book 3. 80% don't know the road sign language 4. 60% don't plan their route, they just drive without knowing where they are going and when to turn, at what speed to drive and 5. Stress and alcoholism 5. I don't care attitude in 91% - so what to expect? Accident is the answer

      nosiphom.mazibuko - 2012-10-24 10:45

      Exactly - many drivers have never been trained properly, trained by their girlfriends and boyfriends who themselves were never trained properly. 10 lesseeons and you have a drivers license - never drove at night, never drove on the highway, all you know is crawling at 40 kmh being a nuisnce, then you are unleashed to go and teach yourdself the rest!!! LEts begin with training, then the attitude mught be right as well.

  • steffen.scheibler - 2012-10-23 15:54

    A big high-5 to Wheels24 for hitting the nail on the head. The average attitude in SA is not worse than any place in, for example, Europe, which has much better accident statistics. The quality of driving skills and the quality of the vehicles makes by far the most difference and the driving quality is not likely to improve while the police are so corrupt and allow you to get away with anything for a few bucks!

      mike.lamb.7777 - 2012-10-23 16:33

      It's attitude and nothing else that make so few people stop at stop streets. Then that behaviour becomes the thin end of the wedge.

  • LanfearM - 2012-10-23 16:30

    Yes, attitudes on the road is a major contributing factor to accidents. But, so is lack of law enforcement, for ALL citizens including ministers and their bluelight brigades. So is corruption at testing centres and ticket bribery. So is cell texting and talking. AND, one of the biggest reason are pedestrians who run and walk over highways regardless. Most deaths on our roads are in fact pedestrians. But attidude and aggression, yes, definitely a contributing factor.

  • erik.p.vanwyk - 2012-10-24 08:36

    I dont think that attitude is the main reason but plays a huge part in accidents on our road.Drivers have this sense that they dont have that much to lose because 1) Officials can be bribed 2) Officials not doing there job and 3) Should you lose your driver license,you can obtain it easily again. I think its way to easy to obtain a driver's license n SA (legaly).Take Finland for instance where applicants have to work towards a license for at least a few months.This will make a driver think twice before losing his license and have to go through that whole process again.I think that arrogance also contribute to accidents!

  • christopher.tarboton - 2012-10-24 09:34

    An inane comment from News24. Research shows us many things, and chief among them that all accidents can be avoided if the person/s involved did the right thing at the right time. Police cannot be everywhere all the time, but the drivers can. If the road is in poor condition, why drive fast on it? Incompetence determines the attitude a person will have too, and yes that should be managed and policed. But that is blowing smoke. Saffans are aggressive drivers and have the wrong attitude behind the wheel.

  • zubayr.bhyat - 2012-10-24 11:22

    I think that attitude plays a large part here. Arrogance is a major issue on the road. When was the last time someone gave you way because they just got given way? Also, competence of drivers combined with ignorance / don't care attitude from pedestrians simply adds the problem. In any case if people want safer roads it starts with being better human beings.

  • john.omar.161 - 2012-10-24 11:40

    Total lack of respect for road rules....compounded by the ease at which officers of the law can be bribed.....Most importantly drivers are NOT properly trained>>>>Buying a licence is a daily occurrence and one is had without really knowing how to react on our roads......see just how badly our drivers behave on wwwfatalmovesdotcom

  • gregbecker - 2012-10-24 13:46

    I think "attitude" is partly to blame, along with all of the things that Wheels 24's response listed. BUT - let's ask ourselves WHY this bad attitude exists? I feel this attitude has crept in due to a lack of policing on the roads. Let's get the cops to put the radar guns away and start fining for jumping red robots, changing lanes without indicating, jumping stop streets, stopping with hazards in a lane to load/offload passengers, fine/arrest jaywalkers........ There is no fear. It's a "do whatever you want on the road" attitude because of no law enforcement!

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