Transportation has always played a big role in the history of mankind and it is doubtful that Nicolas Joseph Cugnot who built the first automobile in 1769 could have predicted the role it would play in the day to day life of modern man. Unfortunately, in today’s hustle and bustle and sometimes seemingly endless traffic jams, vehicles are forced to share the highways and byways with pedestrians.
Right, left and Right Again! -In South Africa the nearest threat from vehicle transport will be approaching from your right – therefore your last action before entering traffic should be to look to the right!!
Those are the words that should be drilled into all preschool learners. “Never step into a road unless you plan to walk over a Zebra” referring to the famously, black and white striped pedestrian crossing and catch phrases like “ Green means go and red means NO!!!” set the way for safety etiquette when using the roads as a pedestrian.
ER24 has seen a sudden influx in pedestrian related collisions in the past few weeks and have attended to 247 pedestrian accidents in the last month. One of the more recent incidents occurred in Cape Town when two pedestrians were struck at high speed while walking next to the N1 highway near the Okavango off ramp. One of the men died at the scene and the other was left with various injuries.
Paramedics who attended the scene noted that this specific area is known for high speed pedestrian accidents as pedestrians are known to cross the busy highway at that point. On the same day, the ER24 Discovery Medicopter was dispatched to assist with transportation of a seriously injured patient who had sustained broken bones in both of his legs. The 35 year old male was struck by a vehicle as he was attempting to cross the R59 highway in Meyerton, Gauteng.
Most of the fatal pedestrian accidents involve pedestrians crossing a busy freeway at any given time during the day. Contributing factors like a lack of education and alcohol abuse may play a role in the large number of pedestrian related vehicle collisions around South Africa.
ER24 would like to advise all pedestrians and road users on the following precautions when using the roads around the country.
• Always cross the road at a designated crossing point like an elevated freeway walkway, a zebra- or humped pedestrian crossing, or a robot activated crossing
• Look right, left and right again to ensure that all traffic has come to a complete stop before stepping into the road
• Wear visible or reflective clothing when walking, jogging or standing next to a road or freeway
• Motorist should utilise their headlights even in day light to improve visibility of pedestrians, also giving pedestrians a better chance of seeing a vehicle which may be approaching.
• Drivers should pay attention to their surroundings and be pre-emptive to pedestrians walking next to or on the roads
As December approaches and temperature rises, more individuals will be seen outside enjoying the pleasant weather. Slippers will be swapped for running shoes and boots will be swapped with flip flops as joggers and beach goers enjoy their great outdoors. Drivers and pedestrians should be mindful of one another, as an unexpected run-in may be devastating.
Andre Visser, ER24