Until We Change Driver Behaviour, Road Fatalities will Continue
In the early hours of this morning, eleven (11) people lost their lives in a head-on collision between two (2) minibus taxis. The tragic accident happened between Laingsburg and Beaufort West when a driver took a reckless decision to overtake in the face of oncoming traffic. The real tragedy is that this accident was completely avoidable.
Accidents do happen, and sometimes it is mechanical failure and beyond the control of the driver, but when reckless decisions claim multiple lives, I am outraged. Thirty-three (33) passengers sustained injuries, seven (7) of those being severe, but the traumatic experience and emotional scars for all these people and their loved ones, will remain long after the bandages have been removed.
Just yesterday I delivered a speech at the Gene Louw Traffic College in Brackenfell where I stated that I don't merely want to sympathise with families who lose loved ones on our roads. The carnage must stop. I appealed to not only traffic officers, but all road users to become road safety activists. I would hate to think that my appeal fell on deaf ears.
So today, I am once again appealing to all South Africans to act responsibly on our roads, but even more so, to take personal offence when seeing a fellow road user disregard the rules of the road and to report such behaviour immediately. Our officers cannot be everywhere, but if we are informed of a potential hazard on our roads, especially on long distance routes, we will do everything in our power to intercept such a vehicle and possibly save lives.
While we continue to enforce the law, look at new ways of engineering improvements, and constantly drive road safety education programmes, we need the cooperation of each and every road user to ultimately make our roads safer for everyone.
Gone are the days where we simply shake our heads in disapproval. I have often said that safety in our communities is everyone's responsibility. This has to extend to safety on our roads as well.
When people see a traffic officer, they generally slow down and make sure they are obeying the rules of the road. Our officers are not out there to inconvenience anyone. We simply want to positively influence the behaviour of road users. The way motorists drive when spotting a traffic officer, should be the way they always drive. Until we get this attitude adjustment right, blood will continue to spill on our roads.
Minister for Community Safety