Watch out for pedestrians on South Africa’s roads

Contribute to better road safety by adopting this mind set

Reuben Van Niekerk
Consumer advice
road safety
safer roads
safe driving

Pedestrians are the group of road users on South African roads that account for the most fatalities. There are various factors that contribute to the high fatality rate amongst pedestrians including alcohol and drugs. However very often these pedestrians have never been educated on the rules of the road and how to use roads safely.

While pedestrian education is the easiest way to reduce these fatalities, the number of fatalities could also be reduced if other road users adopted a driving behaviour that takes uneducated pedestrians into account.

Never assume that a pedestrian knows you are there, when approaching crossings or intersections. Make eye contact with pedestrians to double check that they are aware of your presence and your next move.

Drive slowly and more carefully in areas where pedestrians are more common, such as the city CBD, near schools or public transport hubs. Be ready to stop or slow down at any time in these areas as pedestrians have a habit of running across roads or through traffic to catch a taxi or make it to school in time. Be extra vigilant in these areas when driving at night as dark clothing could make pedestrians almost impossible to spot

Pedestrians always have right of way. Even when they are in the wrong, it is the responsibility of drivers of motorcycles, cars and commercial vehicles to do everything possible to avoid colliding with them.

Avoid distracted driving such as talking on your cell phone, eating or smoking. This practice is even more dangerous to pedestrians and cyclists as very often distracted motorists will veer towards the left of the road, placing these road users at increased risk.

Look before turning into a road, especially where there are robots, even when they are green for you, as this is where pedestrians are most likely to be crossing roads.

Educate pedestrians that you come into contact with. Staff members and school children should be made aware of the dangers of walking on roads and taught good habits like looking before they cross, walking against the flow of traffic and wearing bright clothing. Teach pedestrians about crossing in safe areas such as pedestrian crossings, stop streets or traffic lights. Pedestrians should also be made aware that walking on the road when under the influence of alcohol or drugs is just as, if not more, dangerous than driving under the influence of these substances. Point out dangerous behaviour to passengers in your car, so that they can learn and avoid making these mistakes when they are road users themselves.

The easiest way to decrease road fatalities amongst all road users is to treat other road users, whether they are pedestrians, cyclists or other motorists with respect. If all road users commuted in a focussed, alert manner our roads would be a much safer place.