16 July 2013:
Road traffic injuries are the world’s leading cause of death for young people aged 15 to 29 years. This is a sobering thought, but the question is why? What are youngsters doing on the road that makes them more susceptible to road crashes?
The answer lies simply in their behaviour, and the majority lean towards taking risks when behind the wheel. It is a fact that aggressive or risky driving is responsible for up to 80% of crashes on our roads and attitudes towards this type of driving are developed from an early age.
As the adult, your behaviour has a direct effect on the people around you, especially those that are young and impressionable. Have you ever considered what your child thinks while sitting in the back of the car, when you swear at that taxi driver or ‘flip him the bird’? This doesn’t just apply to those with kids on the backseat. The same goes for the taxi driver who blatantly disregards the rules of the road in order to get to his destination a few seconds earlier, the mom who is rushing to fetch her kids from school, or the businessman talking on his cellphone while behind the wheel. This type of behaviour serves to teach passengers and observers that disobeying the rules is somehow acceptable and at times even applauded.
According to The Automobile Association of South Africa (AA), not only does this kind of behaviour have a lasting effect on your young passengers but it can also contribute to the cycle of aggression that South African road users find themselves in.
So stop and think about the example you are setting for those around you - it may be one that you could live to regret. Also, examine your behaviour the next time you are in a vehicle - you may be surprised at what you learn.
So how can you set the right example? The AA suggests following these simple steps:
Road safety starts with the individual road user. It is not enough to claim that it’s someone else’s responsibility. It will take a concerted effort on the part of every road user to change how they behave and thereby set the right example.
Next time you are in a vehicle try to keep in mind what lessons you would like to leave behind – you may have the opportunity to change someone’s behaviour by setting a better example than you did yesterday.
Automobile Association of South Africa (AA)
011 799 1180