Mzansi Afrika

From Johannesburg South Africa, a window on the world

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Traffic

Although we are still right at the beginning of the holiday season, Sapa reports today that the number of road deaths so far this December appeared about the same as last year. About 1200 people were killed on South African roads over last year's December holiday period. Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape have had the highest number of accidents so far, and ninety percent of accidents were preceded by some sort of traffic offence. Wendy Watson from the Department of Transport has expressed disappointment both at the departments lack of success so far and "at the lack of seriousness with which South Africans regarded road safety. " Road accidents claim the lives of more than 12,000 people every year in South Africa, and cost the economy around 38 billion rand.

Crime is said to be one of the main reasons that keep much needed tourist dollars away from the economy, now maybe our traffic situation will also start playing a negative effect on foreign perceptions of the country. Sapa again reports that four British tourists died on the West Coast on Tuesday night when their rental car and a truck were in a collision on the R27 route at Saldanha. It's not clear exactly who was at fault, according to the report, the tourists "appeared to have misjudged their distance while entering a crossing on the R27 from Saldanha at 6.20pm in a rented Nissan Almera." Who knows if the truck was speeding or if it's lights were working - common problems in this country. Either way, it still creates a bad impression.

I don't mean to come accross as being pious or holier than thou, but it does seem to me that the majority of our population seem to almost take a measure of pride in beating the law, I don't know if this is some sort of hang up from the days of apartheid when cops were regarded as the baddies who were agents of the system, and to an extent there is also an attitude of "oh well the cops are all corrupt so why bother to keep to the traffic laws anyway?" I wonder if the same people who promote the website where people can report speed traps and moan about speed traps are the same people who complain about the abominable road death statistics? There is just no culture of wanting or feeling impelled to obey the law in South Africa. This is something the government needs to address. It's pointless coming up with Arrive Alive every December, an ongoing permanent campaign is needed. Children should be educated about road safetly from grade school level, corruption, training and manpower in the traffic department also need to be taken more seriously by the powers that be. If not, things will just carry on they are.

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