We, as drivers need a change in attitude towards them as they are most vulnerable. So what is being done to ensure pedestrian safety in South Africa?
PEDESTRIANS MAKE UP 35-40% OF ALL ROAD FATALITIES
This is a shocking statistic,1,2 and makes us realise just how little protection pedestrians enjoy. What are the major causes of such fatalities and how can these risks facing pedestrians and drivers be mitigated?
SOME PEDESTRIAN FATALITIES ARE UNAVOIDABLE
A drunk driver or a tyre blow-out of a car may cause a car to crash into pedestrians. Other times, criminals could be chasing after pedestrians or vice versa, causing them to run into the road. 1
CHILDREN LEFT UNATTENDED
It is really sad but nevertheless true, that children are sometimes left alone on the roadside, with disastrous consequences. Children could also be running into the road playing a game. 1
PEDESTRIANS NOT USING THE PAVEMENT
Many pedestrians are seen walking in the road along its side, instead of using an existing pavement or verge. What makes it worse is if they walk with their back to traffic, instead of walking on the right side of the road, facing oncoming traffic. 1
CAN YOU SEE PEDESTRIANS IN POOR LIGHT?
Especially when driving in poor light such as at dusk, many pedestrians are so well camouflaged, that drivers don’t spot them in time. Instead, pedestrians need to get hold of reflective clothing, but then, can they afford it? 1
PEDESTRIAN EDUCATION SHOULD MINIMISE TRAFFIC LIGHT FATALITIES
Some pedestrians either have no idea how traffic lights work, or willingly ignore the amber or red light when crossing. Stepping into the road at the wrong time can prove fatal. 1
WHAT ABOUT PEDESTRIANS UNDER THE INFLUENCE?
Some pedestrians may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs and have no idea where they are walking. Other pedestrians could be distracted by music or a conversation on their cell phone , while distracted, walk into a road without thinking. 1
SOME PEDESTRIANS DICE WITH DEATH AS THEY RUN ACROSS THE HIGHWAY
Think about this. A car travelling at 120 km per hour towards you covers a distance of 33.3 metres in one second. You may see a car 67 metres away, which is almost the distance of the width of a rugby field (70 m). At the time of making the decision to run across the highway, a particular car may seem reasonably far away. But, that car will be right on top of you if you take two seconds to get to the middle of the highway. Actually, it is illegal for pedestrians to cross the highway. 1,2 It is also difficult, for pedestrians crossing a highway to judge which lanes are empty, and which have cars approaching them at great speed.
HOW CAN PEDESTRIAN FATALITIES BE MINIMISED?
There are certain steps that can be taken by authorities to effectively minimise pedestrian fatalities.
EDUCATE PEDESTRIANS FROM SCHOOL-GOING AGE
Pedestrians can be taught how to look right, left and right again before crossing a road, and how to approach traffic lights, intersections and painted zebra crossings. These are just a few of the issues that can be addressed. Education about road safety should start with school children from an early age, and get them involved with e.g. school patrols. They should also be taught how to embark and disembark from buses and mini-bus taxis. 1
WHAT CAN MOTORISTS DO TO MINIMISE PEDESTRIAN FATALITIES?
Motorists also have their part to play to ensure that pedestrians are protected from injury and death.
ALWAYS BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR PEDESTRIANS
Drivers should always be alert to a sudden, ‘out of the blue’ appearance of a pedestrian on the road. There are many informal communities situated on either side of highways, and drivers need to slow down when approaching such zones, pretending that, at any time, someone could be shooting out onto the road. Because pedestrians are not easy to spot, extra attention is required. For this reason, slow down and avoid overtaking in such areas.1
HOW TRUE IS THE PHRASE ‘SPEED KILLS’
The slower you travel when pedestrians are likely to be in the vicinity, the more time, you, as the driver, will have to react.3 This is especially important when visibility is poor, and when people are disembarking from a taxi or bus. Finally, remember to stop at formal or informal pedestrian crossings. 1
While on the lookout for pedestrians while you drive, have you protected your car by purchasing adequate cheap car insurance from PMD?
— Arrive Alive (@_ArriveAlive) April 10, 2019
This article was prepared by Eric Sandmann in his personal capacity. The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the views and opinions of Prime Meridian Direct (Pty) Ltd, FSP41040.The views and opinions in the article should not be attributed to anyone but the author unless expressly stated. Nothing in this article should be relied upon as advice, this publication is presented for informational purposes only. No person should act or refrain from acting in reliance on any information found in this article, without first obtaining proper financial advice from the appropriate professional. The author makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, or completeness, of any information linked from, referred to, or contained in this article. The author reserves the right, to edit and change the content of this article.