17 October 2012: Today, the Automobile Association (AA) and the Road Accident Fund (RAF) joined forces to promote awareness on cycling safety and thereby attempt to reduce the number of crashes involving cyclists. With the continued rise in the fuel price, cycling to work and back has become an attractive alternative to many road users, and in many instances, it is their only option. The negative side to this is the number of crashes resulting in injuries and fatalities of cyclists.
Sharing the common road space invariably leads to conflict between different types of vehicles and puts the unprotected road user at greater risk. In an average year, at least 40% of all fatalities and injuries come from the vulnerable road user group. These include pedestrians, cyclists and motor-cyclists. During 2010, 252 cyclists alone were killed and an estimated 800 more injured.
The AA is taking a pro-active stance on road safety issues focusing on vulnerable road users and cyclists in particular. “While it is compulsory under South African law to wear protective headgear when riding a bicycle, many cyclists travel without the necessary protective clothing that would make them more visible to vehicular traffic. For most, affordability is the issue,” says Karen Bryden, Managing Director of the Automobile Association.
“Many countries such as Cambodia, Vietnam and Uganda have road safety initiatives which focus on helmet use for motorcyclists, but this project is one of the few worldwide which addresses cyclist safety in particular,” she added.
In line with the UN Decade of Action goals, the AA and the RAF have initiated a pilot project in Gauteng with a view to extending this project nationally.
The project consists of three main elements:
Cyclists without protective gear will be stopped and handed the bag containing a crash helmet and a reflective high-visibility jacket. At that time, reflective tape will be applied to the bicycle and the LED lamp fitted.
“By making cyclists more visible to drivers and also educating them about road safety will help to improve the general safety of our road environment. The RAF has invested in this project, teaming up with the AA to increase the safety of cyclists and thereby reduce the number of claims against the RAF. All in all this will go a long way to reducing the number of injuries and fatalities on our roads,” says Dr Eugene Watson, Chief Executive Officer of the Road Accident Fund.
Automobile Association of South Africa (AA)
011 799 1180