From distractions, drunk driving and reckless driving, to texting while driving and excessive speeding, there are a number of contributing factors to South Africa’s high road accident rate, with the road accident related death toll in December often exceeding some countries’ annual rates.
According to the World Health Organisation’s 2018 Global Status Report on Road Safety, road deaths are the leading cause of death among people aged between five and 29 years, and the eighth leading cause of death globally. Additionally, road accidents have an immense cost to the economy, with the annual cost of road accidents in South Africa amounting to in excess of R164-billion.
THABO Training and Services (TTS), in partnership with the Transport Education Training Authority (TETA), embarked on its Ungama Na? (can you stop?) road accident prevention campaign on 21 November 2020. The campaign aims to create awareness on how to prevent accidents on South African roads, and will be launched on digital and radio platforms.
According to Rudi Jansen van Rensburg, Marketing Manager at TTS, the organisation operates with a mandate to redefine the South African Driver training market. “We are advocates for road accident prevention, and our aim is to challenge conventional practices, and be responsive to the needs of our customers through flexible service offerings.”
TTS addresses seven key areas that it views as contributing factors to accidents, and offers solutions to mitigate the associated risks. These are comprehensively covered in the THABO Training and Services Risk Assessment Driver (RAD) driver training programme, an initiative that has been highly successful since its implementation 16 years ago.
“The RAD programme was developed by accident reconstructionist, Dave Marais, and is based on findings from accident scenes over the past 21 years,” explains Jansen van Rensburg. “This was done to identify the leading causes of road accidents, and offers seven safety tips to reduce these risks. If applied correctly, these seven tips address more than 90% of road accident risks.”
The Ungama Na programme highlights fit for purpose drivers and vehicles, and covers areas including:
- Safety Tip #1 – Concentrate
Increased distractions while driving results in delayed driver reaction to any potential threat, and increases the stopping distance.
- Safety Tip #2 – Observe
Driver’s should look beyond the immediate road ahead, and look through bends. This gives them adequate time to identify possible hazards and reduce speed.
- Safety Tip #3 – Be aware
Drivers must be cognisant of what is in front and behind them, and be prepared to stop and ensure that the vehicles in front or behind can stop in time. Apart from driver concentration, vehicle condition such as load, tyre condition, and speed are also factors to consider.
- Safety Tip #4 – Forward planning
Be well rested before embarking on a journey, and plan the trip before leaving. Do not drive more than two hours without a rest period, and most importantly do not take energy boosters or medication that may cause drowsiness – a major contributor to delayed driver reactions.
- Safety Tip #5 – Tyre management
Only fit tyres sizes that are recommended by the vehicle manufacturer, and ensure that tyre pressures meet the requirements of vehicle-specific laden or unladen loads. Never drive with damaged, smooth, under- or over inflated tyres, as these characteristics increase required braking distance.
- Safety Tip #6 – Intersection awareness
More than 80% of accidents occur at intersections. Putting this into context, when travelling at 60km/h or 16.7m/s, it takes around 50m to come to a standstill! This is why it is important to be cognisant when approaching an intersection, ensuring that the vehicle can come to a complete stop if anything were to happen.
- Safety Tip #7 – Driving at night
The Road Traffic Laws dictate that a vehicle’s low beams are not allowed to project in excess of 45m. And given that at 60km/h a vehicle takes approximately 50m to come to a standstill, and at 120km/h it takes around 170m, if a driver is not concentrating and vehicle components are not in proper working order, they may not be able to stop in time to avoid any hazards.
“We believe that by addressing these factors, and ensuring that South African drivers are aware of and implement these, the road accident statistics in the country will decrease,” adds Jansen van Rensburg.
Maphefo Anno-Frempong, CEO at TETA, echoes Jansen van Rensburg’s sentiments, explaining that these are the key drivers of change in the behaviour of drivers on South African roads.
“We are committed to raising awareness around road accident prevention in South Africa, and believe that training initiatives such as the ones offered by THABO Training and Services need to be implemented for all drivers. This will reduce accidents on our roads and, in turn, decrease our unacceptable road accident-related death rate,” she concludes.