Home FleetWatch 2015 Road deaths decline by 34% in last week of March but no...

Road deaths decline by 34% in last week of March but no cause to celebrate yet

I do apologise for showing this picture just before the Easter holidays but I do so to bring home the reality of the ‘war-zone’ on our roads. Please drive safely. Relax and enjoy the drive. You do not want to be in a situation such as depicted here.

The number of fatalities on South African roads showed a 34% decrease in the last week of March compared to the same period last year. While the figure of 34% may well cause people to whoop-whoop for joy, there is no reason to celebrate as we are nowhere near where we want to be. Consider this:

Minister of Transport, Dipuo Peters, says preliminary data from the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) shows that during that particular period (20th to 30th March 2015), there were 166 fatal crashes which resulted in 206 fatalities. For the same period last year, there were 297 fatal crashes resulting in 313 deaths. Thus the 34% reduction figure.

The data is sourced from the South Africa Police Services and other traffic authorities and the RTMC captures, process and verifies all the statistics to produce reports.

While FleetWatch welcomes the reduction, we certainly do not see it as any cause for celebration? How can we celebrate the fact that in a mere 11 days, 206 people lost their lives on our roads. That’s horrendous! There are now 206 families whose Easter eggs will taste sour instead of sweet.

How many dads are there in that group of 206 dead people who won’t around this Easter to hide the eggs for their kids? How many moms will not be around to take delight in cooking a tasty Easter lunch for the family? Instead of laughter in the homes of those 206 families this Easter, there will be tears. That does not give me cause to celebrate.

Percentages mean nothing as they often distort the true picture. They hide the reality of the horror of what’s going on out there. Let’s take another look at the introduction to this article. Here it is: “The number of fatalities on South African roads showed a 34% decrease in the last week of March compared to the same period last year. During that particular week, 166 fatal crashes resulted in 206 fatalities.”

There we go. Short and sweet. It doesn’t take much space to highlight a percentage and a body count. And that’s what it has been for ages – just a body count.

What if I were to get the names of each of those people who were killed and list them here. It would take up far more space than a simple paragraph. It would also give far more meaning to the figures. One dead means nothing. Just another body to add to the count. What about this: Edward Litale dead, leaves behind wife and three kids. That’s a real person by the way who died in a truck crash.

That’s nine words instead of two and I haven’t even mentioned the wife and kids’ names. What if we were to now add a face to that name? Wouldn’t it be more real, more meaningful?

Now let me add the names of the immediate family members of each one of those 206 people who lost their lives. Let’s be conservative and say each dead person had a family of four – mom, dad and two kids. So that would be another 618 names to add to the list. And that’s not counting close relatives who will also be grieving this weekend.

Now let’s add injured to our list. The general rule of thumb is to multiply the number of dead by 20 to get to the number of injured, maimed, crippled, brain-damaged and so on. So that list would come to 4 120 names. And so it goes on…and on…and on. And that is just from 11 days – and does not take into consideration the total number of crashes during that period. We’re only talking about the ‘fatal’ crashes where people were killed.

It is thus FleetWatch welcomes the words of the CEO of the RTMC, Advocate Makhosini Msibi, who said the 34% reduction in deaths “should not lull us into complacency”. Instead, he said, the information would spur the corporation – together with its partners in provincial departments and local authorities – to intensify road safety campaigns and law enforcement to save more lives on the roads. That’s what we like to hear.

But let’s not just look to the authorities to save more lives. What are you going to do to save your life and others on the road? The country is now preparing itself for the Easter weekend increase in traffic volumes. Traffic will start increasing on the N1 north passing Carousel and Kranskop plaza from today (Thursday) as travellers head to Moria for the Easter church service.

The N3 to the Kwazulu Natal will also be busy as travellers head to the coast. Higher traffic volumes are also expected on the N4 through Middelburg as holiday makers go to Mpumalanga for the Easter break. In fact, all roads are going to be busy.

What are you going to do to ensure your vehicle is not involved in an horrific – or even a minor crash over this busy period? Or are you just going to go on as normal as if you are not entering a war zone out there – which is what it is.

Stay safe everyone – not only this weekend but every day. It’s not difficult to do so. Road safety is easy. It is not rocket science. Happy Easter everyone and please, don’t add your body to the body count. There’s going to be a pile of bodies stacked up after this long weekend. Don’t let yours be one of them. Please don’t…


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