Since the Matrix Road Safety Association emergency vehicle hit the streets of Johannesburg at the beginning of April 2012, the team onboard has assisted at close on 30 accident scenes.
Of these accidents, most common have been truck and car accidents on the highways, typically close to on- and off-ramps.
Terence Teixeira, from the Matrix Road Safety Association, who has attended most of these accident scenes, says excessive speed, inadequate following distances and reckless driving is to blame for these accidents. “Motorists and truck drivers are travelling at high speeds on the highways, and as they head towards on- or off-ramps, the chances of accidents increase as drivers start changing lanes, slowing down or braking abruptly. In many cases, the drivers lose control of the vehicle and either collide with the barriers alongside the highway, or with other vehicles, before coming to a stop. The major issues with highway accidents are that the lanes become blocked as a result of the accident, and because other drivers are also travelling at high speeds, they often don't have enough reaction time to avoid the accident in progress,” he explains.
There is also a major problem with truck drivers not adhering to road rules and driving vehicles that are not roadworthy. “Owners of truck fleets need to take responsibility and invest in adequate training for their drivers. They also need to ensure that the vehicles are roadworthy and that their drivers are not being overworked, which results in driving fatigue and accidents,” says Teixeira.
The Matrix Road Safety Association vehicle has also attended to several incidents involving motorcyclists and pedestrians. “Several of these incidents took place at intersections where drivers collided with motorcyclists or pedestrians. Some were as a result of the drivers jumping red lights, while others involved drivers hitting pedestrians as they attempted to cross the road. We reported on two fatalities, one of which was sadly a school learner who was hit by a car.”
Teixeira says the number of accidents that happen on Johannesburg roads on a daily basis is frightening. “In just three months, we have attended to nearly 30 accidents. That amounts to 10 accidents a month – which is only a small potion of the total accidents on our roads, as we cannot attend every accident. It's an alarming statistic and one that can be corrected if drivers adhere to basic road rules,” he believes.
Teixeira offers the following road safety tips for drivers:
* Tyre pressures should be checked regularly and again before a trip. Try to look for nails or other objects embedded in the tyres. Check the tread depth on all tyres and replace well before they reach the regulatory minimum depth of 1.00mm. This will reduce the risk of aquaplaning on wet roads.
* Make sure all occupants are belted in the vehicle. If you are ever involved in a crash, your chances of survival will be greatly increased.
* Keep a minimum of three seconds' following distance. Failure to adhere to this considerably increases the risk of the driver often running out of space and/or time. This three-second following distance is extremely important in pre-pass situations, ensuring added forward visibility and space to increase speed before overtaking.
* Slow down and be more aware of speed limits, especially on highways.
* When approaching an area with pedestrians, slow down and approach cautiously, anticipating any possible situation and how you can react to avoid an accident. Always assume that the pedestrian has not seen you and act accordingly.
* Motorcyclists should avoid driving in other vehicles' blind spots and wear reflective clothing if riding at night.
“If we work together to be safer on our roads, we can make a difference and reduce the number of accidents. Be patient and rather take longer to get to your destination than not get there at all!” he concludes.
For more information on the Matrix Road Safety Association, visit www.matrix.co.za.