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SOWETAN | Epidemic of road deaths must end

Firefighters at the scene of a bus crash on the R518 in the Waterberg district in Limpopo on Thursday.
Firefighters at the scene of a bus crash on the R518 in the Waterberg district in Limpopo on Thursday.
Image: Limpopo transport department

The horror bus crash that claimed 45 lives on Thursday ahead of the Easter Weekend is a tragic reminder of SA’s grim road safety record during high traffic holiday periods.

According to authorities, a bus carrying passengers travelling to Moria from Botswana left the road and plunged more than 40m off Mmamatlakala Bridge on the R518 in Limpopo. Forty-five people perished in the tragedy while an eight-year-old girl is the only survivor.

People across the two nations – Botswana and SA – are still grieving and emerging from the shock and horror of the devastating bus crash.  The exact cause of the crash is still unclear as investigations are still ongoing.

There are a lot of factors that are responsible for road crashes in SA in general including speed violation, unroadworthy vehicles, brake failures, unsafe overtaking, reckless and negligent driving as well as conditions of the roads.

The disregard of road traffic rules by motorists is a common occurrence, and this has been highlighted by the high number of fatalities recorded every holiday period.

According to the Road Traffic Management Corporation, 719 fatalities were recorded on the roads in December and most of the crashes happened in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Limpopo provinces.

Although these figures were slightly lower than the previous year’s data, they are still alarmingly high and indicate that road crashes are among the biggest killers in the country.

The effects of the devastation caused by the carnage on the roads cannot be fully comprehended and quantified even with the annual reporting of the figures. Behind the statistics lie real human beings whose lives have been cut short in the most tragic of circumstances.  

Families who lose their loved ones in such tragic circumstances will remain scarred for life. The negative effects of the road carnage can also be felt by other sectors of the economy such as tourism, which could lead to discouraging tourists from visiting SA to explore its beauty and nature due to poor road safety record.

As we mourn the loss of the 45 lives, and dozens others who perished on our roads this past Easter period, we urge government and all motorists to make it their priority and commitment to end this silent epidemic of road traffic accidents.

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