Impaired drivers a road risk
27 October 2014
AA unpacks reasons that influence driver behaviour
On average forty people die on South Africa’s roads every day resulting in approximately 14,000 deaths every year. Worldwide, more people are killed as a result of road accidents than malaria. A sobering thought isn’t it? Impaired drivers are a significant contributor to South Africa's high fatality rate. This is the opinion of the Automobile Association (AA), speaking during its Transport Month drive for better road safety.
“Alcohol, for instance plays a major role in driver behaviour. The South African Medical Research Council has indicated that 55% of people killed in road crashes were under the influence of alcohol,” the AA commented.
However, the AA cautioned that alcohol and drugs are not the only causes of driver impairment. An improperly licensed driver who drives without adequate skill can also be said to be impaired from a safety point of view.
The Association pointed a finger at fraud and corruption within the driving licensing system as a significant contributing factor to the number of impaired drivers on our roads. Licences that are acquired illegally result in having inexperienced drivers using South Africa’s roads without the ability to read a potential risk and take appropriate action to prevent a crash.
As we know from a number of recent incidents reported, road rage is increasingly becoming a common sight on our roads and leads to motorists disobeying the rules of the road and at times physically engaging with other motorists as a result of their state of mind. “It will take a concerted effort to change the culture of aggression on South Africa’s roads and mind-set by all South Africans to act responsibly,” said the AA. “
Driver fatigue is also a concern that that should not be overlooked. Although typically associated with long-distance driving, fatigue can set in after a long day at work, an outing at the beach, or virtually any intensive activity.
“Large portions of the National Road Traffic Act are devoted to driver fitness, however South Africans need to become more aware and accountable for their own fitness to drive,” says the AA. “When people use the roads while under the influence of alcohol, when fatigued or aggressive or without a valid driving licence, the intention of the law is undermined and people’s safety is compromised.” concluded the AA.