It’s a sad reality in South Africa that pedestrians constitute more than a third of all road death fatalities, especially at festive season peak times, according to the AA South Africa.
Many South Africans do not have a driving licence, can’t afford public transport, and are forced to walk wherever they need to be.
Unfortunately, many of these pedestrians don’t always follow the rules of the road, and the results are often catastrophic.
In January the Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters noted that up to 35 per cent of all fatalities on the country’s roads during the December 2015 festive period were pedestrians.
“We find too often that pedestrians don’t understand the dangers they pose to themselves, and other road users, by running across busy highways and roads, and by not being visible enough to motorists. Road safety needs to begin at a young age, and it needs to include education on how to be a safer pedestrian,” the Automobile Association said.
The AA said although it is illegal to walk on national highways (except under certain conditions such as when your car has broken down), enforcement of this law is poor, leading to risks and danger.
“While we understand there is a need for people to make a living, there is also a need for safety. We call on government to be more cognisant of people walking on, or crossing, highways, or operating small businesses on the side of national roads where they are placing themselves and motorists in danger,” the AA added.
The AA said it is important for motorists to adapt to the conditions they are driving in, and to always be aware of their surroundings. Further tips to ensure better road safety for motorists and pedestrians are:
- Pedestrians may be distracted by electronic devices, making them unpredictable. Always be on the lookout for potential problems when driving.
- There will be more pedestrians in built up areas, so be vigilant.
- Schools are especially dangerous as children often don’t think about the traffic as much as they should. Be careful when driving in areas with schools; think about the children because chances are they are not thinking about you.
- Take care when passing a taxi or a bus. Passengers may be alighting and may be unsighted of oncoming traffic.
- In poor visibility be especially mindful that pedestrians may be on the road. Pedestrians wearing dark clothes without any reflective covering are especially difficult to see.
- Follow the rules of the road, pay attention, and drive to the conditions of the road you are on.
- Pedestrians, too, should ensure their own safety. Some tips for pedestrians include:
- Make yourself as visible as possible, consider wearing reflective gear.
- Don’t walk or cross national highways or roads.
- Don’t use electronic devices while walking; always be aware of your surroundings and avoid distractions (such as texting while walking).
- Don’t drink or use drugs before walking on the road. If your senses are impaired, you will not be able to pay sufficient attention to your surroundings.
- Don’t gamble with your safety by trying to run through traffic, at some point you will lose.
“We are again urging every road user in South African, be they motorists, motorbike riders, cyclists, or pedestrians to ensure their own safety by following the rules of the road, and not to take chances with their lives because their actions impact on others,” the AA concluded.