The culture of aggression on South Africa’s roads is responsible for up to 80% of crashes , and it will take a concerted change of behaviour and mindset by all South African road users to reduce the carnage and make our roads safer. This is according to the Automobile Association of South Africa (AA).
The AA says that on average, 40 people die on our roads every day and the majority of these crashes are a result of aggressive driving. Yes, effective policing is required. Yes, relevant legislation is enacted. But we should each take a closer look at ourselves first.
Historically, South Africa is a country of aggressive drivers. The AA suggests an eight-point test for drivers:
- Have you blatantly cut off another driver?
- Have you changed lanes without indicating or in a generally unsafe manner?
- Are you guilty of excessive speeding?
- Do you generally ignore safe following distances?
- Do you often disobey traffic lights and traffic signs?
- Have you used rude gestures or verbal insults?
- Do you use the hooter in a non-warning capacity?
- Have you driven while drunk?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re a roadhog and it’s time to re-evaluate the way you drive and the way you behave on the road. Being a roadhog is about more than just overtaking recklessly or turning without indicating: it’s all about having a blatant disregard for the rules of the road and safety of the other road users.
The irony is that aggressive behaviour will not get you to your destination any quicker. In fact, it could prevent you from reaching your destination at all.
Aggressive driving can be a symptom of the general society in which we live. You have a bad day and once you are alone in your vehicle, your pent up frustration and anger comes out when you wave your fist at a passing vehicle.
In a society such as South Africa’s where most citizens have become desensitised to violence, aggressive behaviour, especially on our roads, is becoming more and more common. In addition, time urgency is one of the most important factors in producing high levels of stress in our society.
In the 2013 World Health Organisation Global Status Report on Road Safety, it is estimated that road traffic injuries are the eighth leading cause of death globally – and by 2030 this will have risen to fifth. This risk is the highest across the African continent.
The AA believes that appropriate, sustainable and effective law enforcement can help change driver behaviour but it will mean that policing needs to become about far more than simply issuing speeding tickets. According to the WHO report, the number of traffic-related deaths decreased in 88 countries that had significant national commitment.
Aggressive behaviour on our roads is only publicly condemned twice a year when the holiday statistics are announced and yet, aggressive driving and the general disregard for road rules plays a huge part in staying safe on the road.
If you look at the causes behind the majority of road crashes, most of them can easily fit into the category of aggressive driving, concludes the AA.