By the end of this year, at least 14,000 people will have died on South Africa’s roads. Despite this, road safety appears not to be a priority for government. Our average speed limits are higher than in other countries and law enforcement is weak. RA’EESA PATHER asked whether people feel safe on our roads and whether they’d consider driving at slower speeds.
Sieraaj Soeker, 46, self-employed, Grassy Park
Safety varies at times but during peak hour it’s pathetic because obviously you want to get where you need to be and not be late. Nobody likes to sit in traffic at all. One time we were driving and a car came over to our lane and and we were forced to drive into another car. The driver of the car that came in our lane smiled and drove off. Nothing happened to him at all. It’s pathetic. If they dropped the speed limit it would be catastrophic because 60km/h is already slow as it is. It’s going to make too much of a difference going from 60km/h to 50km/h. That is why we get speeding fines all the time for cheating 60km/h as it is. Yes, all the time, I break traffic laws. Speeding is the obvious one. I don’t go too fast, it’s just sometimes you don’t take note.
Roxanne Simpson, 22, student, CBD
I do feel safe on the roads. There are idiots but you just have to think for them. People don’t indicate, they drive too fast, obstruct the roads, so there is some silly driving. I broke my back in an accident a few years ago. We were driving down the N2 and we hit a pedestrian who was crossing the road. It was high impact and the car rolled a lot. It took me about a year to get over the anxiety and also to be able to sleep properly – I was asleep when the accident happened so I developed a fear of going to sleep. I’ve never gotten a speeding fine but I have speeded. I also cross over the solid line when I change lanes. Driving at 40km/h or 50km/h is terribly slow. I wouldn’t support that kind of law change.
Khaya Ndala, 28, barrister, Langa
During the day the roads are safe but at night it’s not safe. There are a lot of people driving badly, they’re driving drunk. In 2007 I was going to work in a taxi, and there was a car coming from the other side of the road, and he just hit our car. But I think our driver was drunk, it was Sunday morning. I was injured, I hurt my back and my shoulder. I just feel the pain sometimes, I get in a daze and feel like I’m just losing my mind when I think about it. I’ve never driven a car, so I haven’t broken the law. It would be good if the speed limit was dropped; 40km/h would be good because the roads are narrow and there are a lot of people moving around. Drivers need to go slower.
Yandiswa Magaba, 21, researcher for provincial government, Delft
I don’t always feel safe because of people driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, and there’s some silly driving on the road especially at night and during the peak hours when everyone’s rushing to work. I’ve been in an accident. There was a guy driving in front of our taxi and the robots were green for him to go but he stopped and our taxi bumped into him. He was wrong but police officers blamed our taxi driver. I haven’t driven a car, so I haven’t broken any traffic laws. I think it would be good if the speeding limit was dropped because we would have fewer accidents. It would decrease the number of people that die on the roads.
Sheldon Marlow, 35, surfing instructor, Woodstock (originally from Australia)
I feel safe with my driving but not particularly with other people’s driving. As a pedestrian I don’t feel safe at all because nobody obeys the rules, they all just drive through the crossings, and through the little green man on the robot. In some areas there’s nothing in place to protect pedestrians. You’ve got to keep your eyes open. I haven’t been in an accident but my friend was hit by a taxi while he was driving his motorbike and the taxi just left him there. It makes me disbelieve in the system. There’s people unlicensed on the road, people uninsured, and there’s a definite need for driver education. The last time I broke a speeding law was in Australia, I drove through a red light on motorbike. In Australia, the speed limit is 50km/h, but I don’t think dropping the speed here will do anything. People will speed anyway. We need more permanent cameras and more visible policing.
Ebrahim Raaff, 37, taxi driver, Kensington
I’m a safe driver so I feel safe but when the weekend approaches then nope. That’s the time when people get drunk and stupid. I’ve had experiences with them. This one time a drunk driver went over a red robot and I was driving across the road. He just came up the street, he didn’t stop for any robots or nothing. He came up just behind me, I swerved, and he missed me by a little bit. I’ve broken a lot of traffic laws and I’m parked on a yellow line now. I mainly break parking laws: parking in loading bays, parking on yellow lines, red lines, and then speeding laws, I sometimes break them but not all the time. If the speed limit was dropped, I would just walk. I won’t be able to drive at 40km/h or 50km/h, you’ll get nowhere with that speed.
Carmen Rousseau, 37, food and beverage supervisor, Mitchell’s Plain
I’ve never had any accidents and none of my close friends and family have been in accidents but I don’t feel safe on the roads. There’s a lot of traffic and taxis drive like crazy. They should take all these maniacs with the taxis off the road. If they drop the speed limit to 40km/h or 50km/h it will be more safe on the road. It will prevent people from being in a rush and it will prevent more accidents.