Traffic Chief Kenny Africa’s Holiday Road Safety Message
This festive season, most of us are looking forward to taking time off work, and many of us will be travelling with our families and friends to holiday destinations throughout our beautiful country and beyond.
The festive season is associated with great increases in the numbers of people travelling on our roads. People are also more inclined to over-indulge in alcohol and other drugs, some in celebration and, sadly, some to escape the sorrow that can also come at this time of year, remembering lost loved ones and other tragedies.
It is thus important to remind ourselves of the ever-present dangers on our roads. The efforts of Provincial Traffic Services and our partners in law enforcement, health services and education have seen steady decreases in the numbers of holiday road deaths. However, there have been a total of 640 deaths over last three December-January holiday periods alone.
This death toll masks the burden of hundreds of serious injuries over this period, and the tragedies endured by the families and friends of the victims. In these numbers, we can also see the invisible hand dragging government services away from the many other needs of our society. Police attending to crash scenes while criminals strike elsewhere, emergency rooms and intensive care units choked with the injured while other patients wait, and a court system clogged with drunken driving cases are just a few examples. This same hand has a stranglehold on our economic prospects, as crashes cut short the life prospects of economically active people and shut down our highways and freeways, driving up transport costs and the insurance burden many families are struggling with.
The good news is that each and every one of us can make a difference through our own behaviour.
Alcohol and Roads Don't Mix
First, the simple fact is that alcohol and roads don’t mix. Even small amounts of alcohol can impair your ability to make decisions, operate a vehicle, or walk safely near traffic, whether you are driving, walking, or riding a motorbike or bicycle.
If you’re drinking, don’t drive. The best way to do this is to stay at home, stay at friends, or leave your car at home if you do go out. Don’t even give yourself the option of driving. Whether it’s a taxi, a bus, a train, rather make a Plan B. It is better to crash on a couch than into a traffic light or another car. Help us create booze-free roads. If you have friends or family who still drive under the influence, speak to them before they get into trouble with the law.
If you are on foot, please don’t drink, especially not to excess. Walking drunk on our roads at night could get you run over or robbed. When you are out walking on the roads, make sure you cross where it is safe, and stay on the pavement. Most importantly, make sure that drivers can see you. Reflective clothing can save your life. The golden rule is to see and be seen.
Remember the basics. Watch your speed – there is no deadline more final than a funeral. Always buckle up. When we attend crashes, we don’t need to unbuckle the dead. Please make sure your vehicle has no defects, especially tyres and lights, and that windows and mirrors are clean. Leave your cell phone alone. No call or text message is worth your life, it can wait. Tailgating and reckless overtaking are shortcuts to the grave, and you could take innocent victims with you.
No Substitute for Sleep
If you are going to be driving long distances, remember there is no substitute for sleep. Caffeine can perk you up, but only temporarily. Driving when tired can be as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
These simple steps will ensure you keep yourself and your families safe this holiday season.
Finally, while you enjoy this period of rest, relaxation and reflection, spare a thought for those emergency personnel, from traffic, police, medical emergency staff and all the others working over the holidays to keep us safe. We all owe them a great vote of thanks for all they do throughout the year.
Wishing you a wonderful festive season and a very happy and productive 2016.
View Mr Africa's road safety message in three languages: