There is a great silver lining on this COVID-19 dark cloud. In previous years South Africa would be heading towards one of the most fatal weekends of the year, the Easter Weekend.
Road accidents claimed 104 lives countrywide during the 2019 Easter Weekend, former transport minister Blade Nzimande reported last year.
“The accidents occurred between the Thursday prior to Good Friday until Easter Sunday. Accidents on Monday, a public holiday on which many people travel back home, were not included in the statistics provided. This was significantly lower than the number of fatalities recorded last year (2018),” said Nzimande.
Fortunately, this year we won’t have thousands of cars on the popular N1 north and N3 heading to the different destinations in KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo provinces, respectively.
Generally, the highest traffic is recorded on the N1 north, with most people going the Easter pilgrimage in Moria, at the ZCC church. With the N1 carrying people going home and thousands of Christians going to their annual church conferences, it is no surprise that the highest number of fatalities were reported in Limpopo, with 27 lives being lost. It was followed by KwaZulu-Natal with 26 deaths reported.
Furthermore, it is mind boggling that the road-safety awareness campaigns are on steroids only during two prominent times of the year; around Easter and the Festive Season. It is not enough to only do vigorous road safety awareness campaigns during those particular periods.If intentions were genuine, we would have ‘Arrive Alive’ and ‘Don’t Drink and Drive’ billboards and adverts all over our country. We would probably also even have a campaign that speaks to motorists about not texting and driving.
Some of the unfortunate accidents that result in deaths are of cars moving in spaces where traffic flows and do so at excessive speeds and probably under the influence of alcohol or driving while they are texting. South Africa’s road carnage averages just over 1,000 deaths a month.
Fact is, the 21-day lockdown is going to contribute a great deal towards preventing the traditional Easter Weekend road carnage we have grown accustomed to. This is the silver lining with the COVID-19 pandemic, because it looks like we lose more lives through annual activities than we have through global pandemics like the Coronavirus.
Hopefully, on the other side of this pandemic, we are also going to drive with a fear of death and more respect and appreciation for life.
“What we need is a respect for death and a new hunger for life,” said Nigerian novelist Ben Okri.
- Kabelo Chabalala is the founder and chairperson of the Young Men Movement (YMM), an organisation that focuses on the reconstruction of the socialisation of boys to create a new cohort of men. Email, firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter, @KabeloJay; Facebook, Kabelo Chabalala