File picture: David Ritchie / Independent Media.

South Africa's shocking road accident statistics reveal the need for major intervention, according to AA Spokesperson, Layton Beard.

With Road Safety Week, May 8-14, currently underway, road users are reminded to obey the rules of the road. 

The 2017 statistics revealed that there were over 14 000 deaths on South African roads last year. “That is a big concern for us, especially when looking at a ten year period, from 2007 to 2017, because it amounts to 135 000 people who died on our roads,” said Beard.

Overall, there are 800 000 crashes a year on South African roads, according to The Road Traffic Management Corporation. “We should be extremely worried, it points to a need for a number of interventions to deal with the devastating statistics,” he said.

According to Beard, there are a number of things that have to come into play to achieve this:

  • Continual education for drivers is vital to inculcate respect for our roads.

  • From young, children need to be taught the rules of the road and learn proper pedestrian behaviour.

  • There needs to be better law enforcement that’s more effective. Divers need to understand that there are consequences for their actions as currently, they seem to believe that they can get away with trying dangerous things.

  • More effective prosecution of traffic violations.

  • Safer, roadworthy vehicles.

“Ultimately, we want to see that road users respect others who are also using the road, from other drivers, to runners, cyclists and pedestrians, by adhering to the rules of the road,” said Beard.

Beard’s road safety tips

  1. Make sure your car is in good condition and roadworthy. Check your vehicle: Are your tyres working properly, do they need changing? Are your windscreen wipers in good working condition?

  2. Make sure your spare tyre is in good condition and that you have the tools required for changing a tyre in an emergency.

  3. Stick to the regular services of your vehicle (even before you hit the road).

  4. Before hitting the road it is important to follow certain rules: make sure you and your passengers are buckled up and that you are not distracted.

  5. Drive to the conditions of the road. Consider weather and road conditions along with the speed limit. For example, during rainy weather, it might be safer to drive under the speed limit.

  6. Drive sober.

  7. Stop driving when you are tired. In November 2016, the American Automobile Association released a study equating driving while tired to drunk driving. The safest option while driving long distances is to take a break every two hours/200km.

  8. Be courteous and considerate of other drivers.

  9. Children younger than three need to be in a car seat, and children who cannot sit comfortably with a seat belt should be put in a booster seat.