The roads of South Africa are once again going to be jam-packed this December and January, and Cipla urges drivers and pedestrians to exercise caution on the roads, and not to add to those dreaded statistics that get released at the end of every festive season.
The South African government’s Arrive Alive campaign is not pulling any punches this year, in addition to the usual ‘buckle up’ appeals, they are using emotive strategies that hit home pretty hard – ‘You’re a killer if you text and drive’ being one example.
Arrive Alive was started in 2001, and since then road deaths have decreased by seven percent, saving around 270 lives per year, not to mention millions of Rands. But we can do better than that, while still having a great holiday.
If you follow Arrive Alive on Twitter, or even drive down national highways and see the solar panel signage boards, you’ll know about their hashtags, the most prominent being #arrivealive (as you’d expect).
But 2015 has seen them use a new one almost every month, from #buckleup to #drivesober to #itcanwait, in reference to reading a text while driving.
Having a good holiday season does not mean risking your life, and drivers shouldn’t need hashtags to prompt them to drive safely, not drink and drive, keep eyes on the road. But little reminders don’t hurt, if we’re to bring those road death stats down even further.
Numbers paint a grim picture
In January 2015, the government released their official statistics for road accidents during the festive season, ranging from 1 December 2014 to 5 January 2015, and while there was a slight decrease, it was hardly a reason to celebrate.
Transport minister Dipuo Peters said that 1368 people died on South Africa’s roads in those five weeks, down 2.5 percent from the previous year, but that a vast majority of those accidents were resultant of disobeying the rules of the road.
Peters said, using frank language: “Though we half-heartedly acknowledged the decline, we have no cause to celebrate as our people continue to be killed on our roads due to irresponsible and murderous acts of fellow road users. These senseless killings could have been avoided if we all behaved as responsible law abiding citizens.”
The government’s stats also showed that most accidents happened on the weekend, late at night or in the early hours, indicating a strong causal link with alcohol. Peters’ statements plainly states that these cannot be called ‘accidents’ but rather wilful criminal acts.
It’s up to us. All of us.
While Justice Project South Africa, an NGO aimed at holding law enforcement accountable and accurate, disagreed with Peters’ numbers, saying they should have been higher, they agreed about who was responsible.
“The delinquency of many motorists who refuse to abide by even the simplest of the rules of the road is a symptom of a far wider problem of the incorrect, inefficient and largely absent traffic law enforcement that takes place throughout the year.”
Drinking and driving, driver fatigue, and operating a mobile phone while driving are the major causes of road accidents. These behaviours can easily be changed, and Cipla urges everyone to do their part. We’re the ones behind the wheel, so we’re the ones who can solve the problem.
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