Mar

No mention in SONA of the State of the Nation’s dismal road safety record

2017-03-09 10:47

Road safety. It’s become such a boring topic hasn’t it? Who really cares? In January every year we attend the Minister of Transport’s conference to hear how road users fared in keeping themselves alive or killing themselves over the Festive Season. In truth, we all go there to hear the death figures.

No longer is an improvement expected over the previous year’s figures. We just know that the body count is going to be higher. And so it turned out this past festive season with a 5% increase in body bags compared to the 2015/2016 season. And now Easter is nearly here and we’ll all gather again after the Easter Bunny has returned to wherever he lives to hear how many more bodies were splattered over the roads compared to last Easter’s toll.

Guaranteed there will be no improvement. I must be honest and say that over the Festive Season, I was keeping up with the crash scenes and at one stage I wrote a Facebook post along the lines of: “Ag, to heck with this. No-one cares. Just go out and kill yourself.” I never posted it thank goodness because that is not how I generally feel. I did feel that way then however – and it scared me. When we all stop caring is when we will all lose.

FleetWatch does care – not just over the Festive and Easter seasons but every day of every year where an average of 43 people dies on our roads every day. Because of this, we will continue fighting for change No mention in SONA of the State of the Nation’s dismal road safety record and on this point, I have to state my utter disgust at the fact that nowhere in President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation address in February was South Africa’s dismal road deaths mentioned.

Surely Mr President, 15 000 people dying on our roads every year is worthy of receiving the highest attention from Government. If 15 000 miners had been killed in a year, oh my goodness, what an outcry there would be. But when it comes to deaths on our roads, nothing! Nada! Zilch! It sickens me to the core. In this edition, we went out asking for input into ways to improve the situation.

The responses are varied and interesting and every one of them deserves a viewing. The industry is showing concern and a willingness to improve the situation – which is much more than I can say for our President, Jacob Zuma. Catch up a wake-up Mr Zuma! 15 000 of the people over which you have oversight are dying every year in crashes like the one depicted above – and you don’t see this as serious enough to mention in your State of the Nation address – which forces me to ask: “Do you care enough to care?” If you do, then please give it your attention. If not, we’ll just keep counting the body bags while many thousands of families around the country live in agony at the loss of their loved ones. But we will never stop fighting to reduce those deaths. 

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