Bakwena Platinum Corridor Concessionaire (Bakwena) has recorded a 400% increase in pedestrian fatalities between January and May 2018 compared to the same period last year with 15 pedestrian fatalities being recorded on its freeways during this time.
Bakwena commercial manager, Liam Clarke, says that the spike in pedestrian deaths is highly disturbing. “Not only is it illegal to cross freeways on foot, it is downright dangerous. Motor vehicles travel up to 120 kilometres per hour on the freeways. They do not expect to see pedestrians on the road and cannot stop in time if someone suddenly appears in front of them. The result is almost always fatal.”
Most of the fatalities since January occurred on the N4 near Bapong, which indicates that community members in the area are not making use of the pedestrian bridges which are erected to ensure they can cross the freeway safely.
In March, Bakwena together with other stakeholders, ran a road safety campaign to encourage pedestrians to follow the rules of the road and ensure their own safety. “We partnered with ER24, Imperial Logistics and the Department of Community Safety and Transport Management from North West Province at an event held at the Ke Ya Rona Mall in Bapong to highlight the dangers of crossing the freeway on foot,” says Clarke.
He notes that Bakwena is aware that the bridges are sometimes regarded as unsafe for pedestrians as they can be targeted by muggers. “In this respect, we provide community members with tips on how to keep safe by walking in groups and not walking in secluded areas late at night. Our disaster management team also patrols the bridges in the mornings and late afternoons to ensure children get to and from school safely.”
Another measure aimed at discouraging pedestrians from crossing the freeways is the erection of fences and palisades alongside the freeway. “Unfortunately, these are often vandalised, leaving gaps for pedestrians to get through,” says Clarke.
Nearly half the deaths on South African roads are pedestrians. Many of these can be attributed to adults walking on roads when they have consumed excessive amounts of alcohol, which impairs their ability to react to adverse situations. According to SANRAL, about 70% of adult pedestrians killed on South African roads are under the influence of alcohol/drugs.
Clarke says everyone needs to accept responsibility for road safety. “Truckers and motorists need to be alert at all times and adhere to the speed limits and other rules of the road – but pedestrians must also play their part.
“It is illegal for pedestrians to be on a freeway, therefore pedestrians need to cross the freeway using the pedestrian bridges and not take unnecessary risks. While our road traffic officials try their best to enforce the rules, they cannot be everywhere at once. As adults, we need to set the right example for our children to ensure their safety on our roads,” he concludes.
Note the picture of the young person crossing the road while using her cell phone. The only person obeying the rules of the road in this picture is the truck driver. It reminds me of a video we recently featured in FleetWatch where the cell phone acts as a total distraction to pedestrians. This kid will not see on-coming vehicles while busy on the cell phone – never mind that fact that it is illegal to cross a highway. It’s inviting death. Click here to see the video.