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Cape Town - The number of road accidents involving pedestrians in the city – five people were knocked down within an hour and a half in peak-hour traffic across the city last Friday – has raised questions of over whether people are taking road safety for granted.
In the latest of a series of incidents this month, a man was killed after being knocked down by a vehicle while crossing the N2 between the R300 and Mew Way on Thursday.
Traffic officer and City of Cape Town Traffic Services spokesman Richard Coleman said pedestrians were taking their safety on the city’s roads for granted and needed to be aware of their surroundings.
“Most of these accidents are happening nowhere near pedestrian crossings and on roads where people should not be crossing. The public are not even doing the basics of road safety, which is to look in both directions of the road on numerous occasions.”
On Sunday two men aged between 30 and 35 died after trying to cross the N1 just after the Brighton Road exit.
Five people were knocked down within an hour and a half of each other in peak hour traffic last Friday morning.
The incidents occurred in Broadway Street in Strand, Rocklands in Mitchells Plain, Blackbird Street in Ottery, Roeland Street in the CBD and Vanguard Drive.
Coleman said many pedestrians misjudged the speed of the vehicles.
“Sometimes accidents involve the speed of the cars, especially on roads such as the R300 and Govan Mbeki Drive (the old Modderdam Road), roads that people shouldn’t be crossing.
“They think they have time to cross, but from a distance you cannot read the speed of the cars and that is where the accident happens.”
Roads identified as hot spots include Vanguard Drive, N2, R300, Lansdowne Road and Govan Mbeki Drive.
And, in two weeks, two young children were killed in hit-and-run accidents.
Last Sunday, two-year-old Kwanani Mbongolo was knocked down and killed by a taxi in Oliver Tambo Road in Philippi. His mother had put him down briefly after alighting from a taxi.
On, Saturday 10 May four-year-old Zach Isaacs died after being knocked down by a speeding motorist in Frank Louw Avenue, Bellville South, while trying to buy sweets.
Coleman said it was up to parents to ensure that young children were supervised when crossing roads.
“Children as young as that should be accompanied by an adult. Where are the parents?
“You can teach children at school about road safety because they are old enough to learn. It is not the same with toddlers; they cannot comprehend what to do and therefore need supervision.”
Zoleka Mandela uges safer crossings for kids
Meanwhile, Nelson Mandela’s granddaughter Zoleka Mandela is keeping her daughter Zenani’s legacy alive by campaigning for road safety, saying measures to protect children on the roads have to be put in place.
Mandela, whose daughter Zenani, 13, was killed in a car accident in 2010 while on the way to the opening ceremony of the World Cup in Soweto, was the guest speaker at the launch of the Safe Schools SA pilot project at Sivile Primary in Khayelitsha on Thursday.
“A lot of our kids are being lost on the roads and they don’t have a voice,” she said. “This is an opportunity to give them a voice.”
Mandela said road accidents were the number one killer of children and young people worldwide.
“We know exactly what to do.”
“We need to give our children safe crossing points. We need to slow the traffic on our kids’ routes to school. We need strong action against speeding and drunk driving and we need well-designed education.”
Mandela and other family members have been campaigning for road safety to become a priority for global development since the launch of a road safety campaign in honour of Zenani in 2012.
Sivile, Imbasa Primary in Nyanga and ACJ Phakade in Strand all form part of the 12-month project.
Among other things, children will be provided with reflective tracksuits to increase their visibility, Takalani Sesame will research and develop road safety education material in partnership with child injury prevention NGO ChildSafe, and infrastructure improvements, such as traffic calming measures, will be carried out with local authorities.
Mandela said the Safe Schools project came at a critical time.
“Over the coming months the UN will be deciding the new post-2015 priorities for global development.
“Protecting our children on the roads must be included.”
“Our Safe Schools project is an example of exactly the kind of life-saving initiative that can contribute to the UN’s new agenda.”
Professor Sebastian van As, chairman of ChildSafe, said the project was desperately needed to protect schoolchildren.
“We are suffering from a lack of basic but essential road safety. The kids walking to and from school each day are exposed to fast-moving traffic. All too often we see the tragic results in the trauma unit of the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.”