Alarming road figures

PHIRI CAWE

Drinking is a danger not only to drivers, but pedestrians too, wear a seatbelt, don’t text while driving, adhere to the rules of the road and respect your life and the lives of others.

That was the message delivered to residents of Khayelitsha by traffic and government officials at a road and rail safety community workshop held at the Lookout Hill in Khayelitsha on Tuesday July 12.

The officials, who said they were really concerned about many young lives lost in accidents, many of which were caused by young men over weekends and in the evening, urged those present to reduce drinking alcohol and be part of the change.

Hector Elliot of the provincial Department of Transport and Public Works revealed that road deaths were starting to overtake dread disease as the main cause of death, rated eighth in the world.

Mr Elliot launched a scathing attack on those who think it is acceptable to drive while under the influence of alcohol.

A total of 17 000 people are killed on provincial roads every year, with about 3 000 of them children. About 68 300 people are badly on road accidents.

“South Africa is one of the most dangerous countries on the road. We cannot afford this. We could build 2 369 260 RDP houses with the money we are losing. Reducing road fatalities can also create more jobs,” he said.

Commenting on alcohol and alcohol advertising, Mr Hector criticised the government for allowing the pressure from alcohol industry. He said alcohol abuse advertising create a wrong impression to young people. “The country has a very high level of alcohol. People don’t understand how risky it is. We have alcohol manufacturers that put pressure on government to be allowed to advertise on media. It creates an impression that you are clever if you go with times and you can be successful or play for a big team. This is not it,” he said.

He urged young men to respect their lives and those of others by not indulging too much in alcohol. “There is a serious problem with young men. They are dying in numbers and there we can point to excessive drinking, crossing roads without looking and many other problems,” he said.

Road safety officer Nokuzola Letselebe also slammed young people who drink too much. “Young men should be more responsible. If they drink they should stick to the legal limit. They are the ones that are causing accidents.We urge them to be vigilante and be more responsible,” she said, adding that young men accounted for the most fatalities when it came to road deaths.

She said her department is focusing on changing the mindset of drivers and through the “Alcohol and Roads don’t mix” campaign, hoped to make an impact on people’s lives.

Amkelwa Mpatawana, of the Social Justice Coalition, which organised the awareness workshop, said: “The purpose of the workshop is to create community awareness and create a platform where the community will engage on issues regarding road and rail safety.”