Safer roads start with us
It was the subject of my first column and I return to it for this, my last. Many people have died on our roads. Many more will die today, tomorrow, this weekend, next week and next month - until we do something to turn the tide.
If we are going to wait for all the potholes to be fixed before we do something, it will be too late.
If we are going to wait until all the roads are built before we act, disaster might strike in our own families.
If we are going to wait to see traffic cops on every stretch of road, it might be a long wait.
If we are going to wait for all traffic lights to work, every day, come rain or shine, heaven knows how much blood would have been spilt on our freeways by then.
We can prevent many of the deaths which occur on roads by being responsible motorists. We can start by obeying the rules of the road without fail. We can start by adhering to the speed limit, by being a little patient with the disruptions brought about by the freeway improvement plan, and by not drinking and driving.
More than 1100 people die on our roads every month. Most of the accidents are caused by speeding, disobeying road rules and drunk-driving.
These deaths are preventable.
The audacity of motorists and the way they flout the rules of the road terrifies me. Why is it so easy for motorists, taxi drivers, bus drivers, truck drivers and pedestrians to go through a red robot? Why is it so easy to risk our lives to save a few minutes?
Get on the N1, and in any direction there are usually a variety of road works in progress on any given day. Observe how motorists pick up speed just as the road narrows, how they ignore the signs to slow down. When they are supposed to slow down, they rush - only to cause a commotion when the road narrows into a single lane.
Don't get me started on motorists who reduce your safe following distance to centimetres by squeezing in front of you just when the pearls of sweat on your forehead were starting to dry. Or those who change lanes without indicating or turn without alerting you, or stop without warning, or when it is not safe to do so.
Or the motorist who is having a swell time SMSing, oblivious that the car is straddling the lanes. Or the driver who is chatting away on the cellphone and has reduced traffic on the single lane road to a convoy that moves to the pace of his conversation. It is sickening, this disregard for the safety of your fellow road users and the law.
We have all seen this scenario: there is a traffic jam, and a driver rides straight past all the other motorists, usually via the emergency lane, to cut into the line later on; only to encounter a fellow hothead who refuses to let him in to teach him a lesson.
Two wrongs don't make a right, and this sort of behaviour usually does more harm than good on our roads, which are already unsafe.
Your actions could save a life, prevent a disability and spare lives from misery. Stop when it is your turn to stop, move only when it is your turn and it is safe to do so, stick to the speed limit and make sure your car is roadworthy. Don't drink and drive.
Safer roads don't start with a bold, new plan from the Transport Department, or with an army of traffic officials. Safer roads start with you. Obey the rules on our roads. If we do that, then no longer will some 1100 people die on our roads every month.