The fatal season is upon us

Howard Dembovsky, National Chairman of the non-profit Justice Project South Africa. Picture: Supplied

Howard Dembovsky, National Chairman of the non-profit Justice Project South Africa. Picture: Supplied

It’s that time of the year again when the roads in Gauteng become like the laid back coastal towns Gautengers migrate to each extended holiday period.

Unfortunately, it’s also that time of the year where, instead of celebrating what should be family time, the lives of some families will be torn apart when their loved ones are involved in gruesome crashes while travelling to their holiday destinations.

During December each year, much is made of the “festive season road death toll”, despite the fact that road injuries and deaths at this time of year are in reality no more pronounced than at any other time of the year.

Every single provincial authority prohibits traffic officers from taking leave over December and stages roadblocks on the major routes, but yet the carnage counter keeps ticking.

This has been the case for decades, and since the RTMC developed the “National Rolling Enforcement Plan” (NREP).

It would therefore be unfair to say “nothing is being done to reduce road carnage”, but it would be equally fair to say that what is being done doesn’t really produce the desired results in reducing road carnage.

Given the increased traffic on these routes, it could be argued that the fact that the December holiday season doesn’t produce even more carnage is precisely because the cops actually do something over the festive season.

If they weren’t more visible at this time of year, I shudder to think how high the carnage counter would climb.

But just because our authorities are treading water in minimising the festive season carnage doesn’t mean that they are achieving their mandate.

The NREP is now more than 10 years old and, despite minor tweaks, it has failed to reduce carnage on our roads.

The fact of the matter is that it is that only a madman who would continue to do the same thing and expect different results.

When motorists are allowed to drive like hooligans all through the year, it’s unreasonable to expect them to behave just because it’s the festive season.

Our traffic authorities need to learn to enforce ALL road traffic laws ALL YEAR ROUND and thereby instil some order on our roads but road users also need to come to realise that traffic laws apply to everyone who uses our roads –including you.

If I had to offer you any advice for a safe festive season on our roads, it would be to adopt a holiday mood to your driving.

Take it easy when travelling to and from your destination and enjoy the ride. Aggressive driving is one of the leading causes of road crashes and if you engage in it, you are tempting fate. Similarly, if you are not vigilant to the actions of others, you are looking for trouble, but whatever you do; don’t try to punish others for poor behaviour on our roads.

If you become aggressive you will be exposing yourself and your loved ones to one of the leading causes of crashes.

View the Justice Project ‘Carnage counter’ here.



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