Thu Dec 08 16:23:25 SAST 2016

Road safety begins with us

Sunday Time Editorial | 2012-04-01 00:49:53.0

Sunday Time Editorial: WE KNOW why so many people die on our roads each Easter and each festive season, and on the days in between. Speeding, drinking, fake licences, reckless and impatient driving, and unroadworthy vehicles ratchet up a gruesome toll of death and disfigurement.

We know that 86085 people lost their lives on our roads between January 2006 and December 2011. We know that hundreds of families are about to mourn the tragic - and often avoidable - deaths of their loved ones in traffic accidents over the forthcoming Easter weekend.

We just don't know whose turn it will be this time.

Yet drivers keep on speeding, keep on drinking, keep on hoping their cars will make it through one more journey, praying to avoid one more roadblock. We refuse to believe we could lose our lives or kill a stranger or loved one through our recklessness. Until it happens.

The taxi driver who killed bride-to-be Grace Sabela had no intention to do so. But he got behind the wheel, allegedly under the influence, and raced off to his destination. He didn't intend to roll his taxi and kill Sabela and five members of her bridal party, including her sister, her 11-year-old flower girl and eight-year-old page boy.

But kill them he did. And, instead of celebrating, their families are in deep mourning.

To be sure, there is much that the government can do to reduce road accidents, such as policing busy roads and making sure drivers adhere to the rules. It could fix potholes on national and regional roads. It could pull unroadworthy vehicles off the road. And it could stamp down on corrupt traffic police who take bribes from offending drivers.

But policing our roads will mean nothing without a change in attitude among South African drivers. We need to accept that road safety starts with us.

We are a nation of aggressive, impatient drivers. We overtake on solid lines, switch lanes with gay abandon, hoot and flash our lights at drivers who drive too slowly for our liking. This is a recipe for death.

When we get into our cars this Easter, let's spare a thought for Grace Sabela and her family. And let's make sure we do not cause another death.

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