Editorial

Actions, not words, are needed to halt this carnage

04 October 2017 - 05:45 By The Times Editorial
The wreckage of a car lies wedged beneath a timber truck on the R617 near Underberg. Seven people were killed in the accident.
The wreckage of a car lies wedged beneath a timber truck on the R617 near Underberg. Seven people were killed in the accident.
Image: Brett Deavin/Berg Protection Services

Twenty-four fatalities on KwaZulu-Natal roads in the last 24 hours.

It's a devastating statement made by the provincial emergency services department. One life lost an hour. The youngest victim was a nine-year-old girl, who died as a car and a timber truck collided near Underberg in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands on Sunday night. Seven others perished in the wreckage.

One official said four of the five accidents were caused by "driver error".

Do not think this is a uniquely sad and horrific weekend for road crashes in the province.

On the Heritage Day long weekend, 20 people died in KwaZulu-Natal road accidents. In the worst case, seven were killed when a vehicle crashed into a dam at Ilembe, north of Durban. A 10-month-old baby and a three-year-old were among the dead.

Of course, MECs, officials and traffic authorities will offer their prayers for the families - and well they should. And there will be visits to the survivors, as there should. And there will be talk of taking - and promises of - action, whether it be against errant drivers, unroadworthy vehicles, dodgy public transport bosses or whoever the target might be this time.

But nothing will actually happen. There will be another accident - or series of accidents - next weekend, and the same prayers will be offered, visits will be conducted and promises made.

Clearly, whatever the government is doing simply isn't enough. If actual speed enforcement took place, perhaps we could see a difference. Maybe if unroadworthy vehicles were actually pulled off the road, we would see fewer crashes. If we hadn't dithered around a points demerit system, drivers might take more responsibility.

More needs to be done, and urgently, before another 10-month-old perishes - or before another 24 people die in another 24 hours.

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