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Transport minister S’bu Ndebele cited Australia and England in reviewing the Easter road death toll on Monday, when he sounded a cautiously optimistic note.
Reflecting on the initial fatality statistic for the long weekend (official figure rose to 181) he said it was fairly uncivilised for a country as developed as South Africa to have all these road deaths.
Australia and England are fine examples, aspirational even, in our sorry case. More than 1100 people die on our roads every month.
In Australia, 1292 people were killed in vehicle accidents - in the whole of 2011.
It can be argued that it has a population less than half ours. But it boasted the lowest number of deaths since 1946, and has seen a fall of 26 percent in the past 10 years. What is more, the Gillard government has produced a plan to reduce this.
In Great Britain, with a population at least 20 percent bigger than ours, road fatalities dipped below 2000 last year.
Any victories over our appalling road record are to be welcomed, therefore. Easter’s early numbers are small improvements in truly bloody statistics. Hence Ndebele’s caution, perhaps - not only were the final figures not in when he spoke, but South Africa remains way off the mark.
BIG POLICE PRESENCE
When Ndebele referred to civilisation, he was on target: carelessness alone cannot explain this country’s road accidents. It goes to driver recklessness and aggression, flagrant disregard for the rules and the safety of others on the road - which often includes their own passengers.
Ndebele attributed the weekend improvement to drivers’ increasing awareness and responsibility. The start of a change in attitude, maybe? Or is that too much to hope for?
Again, a big police presence produced dividends in better motoring. Frequent travellers on the N3 to Gauteng know, for instance, that the Estcourt stretch generally has speed traps. And drivers adjust accordingly. Police visibility and action have a way of ensuring driver discipline. -Daily News