Writes: Sibongile Mahlaola, Gauteng Department of Community Safety

Pedestrian fatalities remain a major concern for road safety, puts a strain to the economy and an extra burden to the health system in South Africa, especially in middle and lower income countries. Road crash fatality data reveals that approximately 35-40% of road deaths in South Africa are pedestrian deaths.This was also confirmed by the release of the Easter road fatalities on News24 released on 29 March 2016, by Former Transport Minister Dipuo Peter’s which recorded a decrease of 46% on Easter road deaths, 51% of all fatalities were pedestrians.

According to World Health Organization report of 2 May 2013, each year, more than 270 000 pedestrians lose their lives on the world’s roads. Many leave their homes with the hope of coming back safely. Globally, pedestrians constitute 22% of all road traffic fatalities, and in some countries this proportion is as high as two thirds of all road traffic deaths. With this alarming statistics, over Millions of pedestrians are left with permanent disabilities. These incidents cause much suffering and grief not only to the victim, but to the family as some are breadwinners leaving an economic gap in the family.

The capacity to respond to pedestrian safety is an important component of efforts to prevent road traffic injuries. Pedestrian collisions, like other road traffic crashes, should not be accepted as inevitable because they are both predictable and preventable.

The most prevalent contributing factors to pedestrian fatalities in South Africa are:

Pedestrians who are intoxicated with alcohol and drugs.

Pedestrians running across the roads and freeways underestimating the speed of vehicles.

Distracted pedestrians by cellular phones, music, earphones etc.

Not wearing high visibility or reflective clothing.

Criminals running away from the scene of crime by crossing the road unsafely to avoid being caught.

Jay-walking or crossing the road dangerously.

According to the pedestrian safety manual developed by Arrive Alive reviewed in September 2013, the following are the Dos and Don’ts;

The law states that where there is a pavement, no pedestrian should walk in the roadway.

Where there is no pavement, walk as far as possible to the right -hand side of the road , facing oncoming traffic

When you use the pavement, remember to share the space with other pedestrians to avoid being run over by impatient motorists

Certain social interactive places within urban areas such as taverns, shebeens, parks and many more, have become breeding places for all kinds of social ills.National Tourism & Hospitality Association (NTHA) which is an agent of Liquor Traders Against Crime, will help play a role in the reduction of pedestrian fatalities by keeping strict rules on the operating times in shebeens and taverns. Encouraging liquor traders to do “happy hour” specials during the day to ensure that patrons don’t end up drinking till late at night. Raising awareness throughout the month of April and beyond targeting Ekurhuleni, Soweto and Vereeniging by working hand in hand with SAPS in distributing safety flyers to patrons