Daily, cyclists and runners take to the roads in pursuit of their respective sports, and nearly all of them do so while following the appropriate safety requirements.
Unfortunately, pedestrians and motorists seem less concerned with safety and more with doing their own thing whenever they want, and expect to do so with impunity.
Because of this attitude, our roads have become dangerous for all road users. There is no evidence in the behaviour of pedestrians that we teach road safety in schools. There is plenty of evidence that motorists are on the road who show no signs of having passed the regulations exams. How did we get to this stage?
Unless corrective measures are put in place immediately the carnage will continue. More citizens—parliamentarians, read: constituents—will pay with their lives because of the chaos which has been allowed to reign.
Many runners and cyclists can recount numerous near misses in which the drivers happily drove off, secure in the knowledge that they were unlikely to be prosecuted. Making the roads safer means having a strong police presence or effectively using technology coupled with mandatory mass education programmes regardless of age.
Our police officers seem to have hibernated or are too busy rudely waving motorists out of the way just so the President, Prime Minister, Commissioner of Police, or the latest Machel Montano-wannabe can get through. We seem to have forgotten that in the absence of consequences, people will push the envelope and get away with whatever they can.
These problems will not self-correct. They need:
- Sustained, ubiquitous police enforcement of the driving regulations
- A public campaign aimed at promoting acceptable driving standards
- Retraining of pedestrians on how to use the roads
- Introduction and enforcement of penalties for jaywalking and pedestrian obstruction of traffic
Simply increasing the fines without enforcement will not have the desired result. And let’s not forget that the police themselves must be exemplars in terms of obeying the rules of the road.
Too often we observe police officers driving while chatting on their phones or driving with their right arm dangling out of the window or using their sirens only to be found buying doubles at the next vendor. I often ask, how is the citizen supposed to react to someone in civilian clothes driving a marked police vehicle?
Yes, I’ve digressed; this will be taken up in another post.
Police officers continue to fumble over the chaos on the roads by ignoring the illegal and inappropriate stop/start/stop/start of both illegal (“PH”) and legal taxis, a major cause of traffic congestion; the illegal u-turns on main roads; drivers rolling through major roads; drivers not stopping at zebra crossings; and even pedestrians not using the zebra crossings and walkovers.
These are not headline-grabbing activities but if laws are obeyed, and good sense followed, these are the things that signal that we are a society of order.
A good life is made of lots of small, good actions, preferably by everyone in society. Doing these the small things can make a big difference.