South Africa’s shocking road death numbers are at its highest level in 10 years. The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) annual road death statistics ‘are cause for great concern’, comments the Automobile Association.
The RTMC’s figures for January to December 2016 shows that 14071 people died on South African roads last year, a nine percent increase on the 2015 figure of 12944.
More than 1120 more people died on the roads in 2016 than in 2015. This is the highest annual road death toll since 2007 when 14920 people died on South African roads. In 2006, 15419 people died on the country’s roads.
The AA said: “The annual road fatality statistics for 2016, published recently by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), are cause for great concern, and point to an urgent need for combined interventions from everyone involved in road safety in South Africa to curb the rising numbers.
These figures are alarming, and should worry every motorist in the country. These numbers seem to indicate that awareness campaigns and education initiatives are not working well enough, driver attitudes are getting worse, and that law enforcement is not making the impact it should.”
Human factors are indicated as the biggest contributor to road crashes and fatalities, accounting for 77.5% of contributing factors. Vehicle factors (6%), and road and environmental factors (16.5%), make up the balance.
These are recorded among the human factors that most lead to crashes, and deaths:
- Jaywalking pedestrians – 38.8%
- Hit and run crashes – 18.5%
- High speed – 14.1%
- Overtaking in the face of oncoming traffic – 6.9%
- Drunk driving or driving while on drugs – 3.6%
- Driver fatigue – 2.2%
- The statistics show Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal have the highest percentage of road deaths in the country, each contributing just under 20% to the national total.
“Too often motorists are driving recklessly or not obeying the rules of the road. Similarly, pedestrians are not protecting themselves by being more visible to cars, or are taking chances crossing over roads where they shouldn’t. “More effort is needed by both groups of road users, and more effort is needed by organisations involved in road safety to make safety a priority,” the AA said.
Traffic accidents caused by fatigue are a significant problem in SA. Road crashes with heavy vehicles are receiving much more media attention than that of passenger
vehicles. The carnage from these crashes are simply much scarier and thought provoking than the multitude of other smaller crashes daily.
In the meantime, what can drivers do to prevent tiredness from making them another crash statistic?
- Your eyes go out of focus by themselves and you battle to see properly;
- You have trouble keeping your head up;
- You can’t stop yawning;
- You can’t concentrate, and you lose track of time.
- You battle to keep an even speed and keep drifting out of your lane;
- You don’t remember driving the last few miles;
- You miss the highway off-ramp that you are supposed to take.
How to prevent driver fatigue:
For starters, get enough sleep the night before a long trip – at least six hours is recommended. Wear good-quality sunglasses, avoid heavy foods and, of course, don’t consume any alcohol during your trip. If you can, have another person ride with you, so that you will have someone to talk to who can also share the driving.
Be on the alert for these signs of sleepiness: trouble keeping your eyes open, difficulty paying attention, or yawning frequently. If you notice any of these danger signs, stop periodically for a rest, and if needed, a quick nap – even 20 minutes will help. During your break, get some exercise; it helps you become more alert, quickly.
The problem with long-distance driving is that many people do not know (or choose to ignore) how much driving is too much. On long trips, schedule a 15-minute break outside the vehicle every two hours or every 160 km. There is no set rule that stipulates how far you should drive at any given time, but no destination is worth
risking your life. Don’t overextend yourself. Determine a reasonable distance in advance, and stop driving when you reach it.
If you stop for a rest, choose a designated rest area or parking lot. It is usually not advisable to just pull off to the side of the road to sleep, yet there may be times when it is better to pull off the road and nap, than to continue driving and chance falling asleep behind the wheel.
This festive season Be Patient, Drive with Care and Belt up!
Alert Today – Alive Tomorrow!
Information courtesy of ArriveAlive and Focus on Transport and Logistics