According to the World Health Organisation the road fatality rates on the African continent is the highest in the world. In fact, Nigeria and South Africa are recorded to have the highest fatality rates with 33.7 and 31.9 deaths per 100 000 population per year, respectively in comparison to Australia’s 5.2 and New Zealand’s 9.1 per 100 000 population per year. Over the 2013 Christmas period alone, 1 376 South African people lost their lives in car accidents.
South Africa’s road accident statistics are of huge concern and in an effort to make a difference, Cartrack joined hands with Fury Motor Group to provide support to Netcare 911’s Rapid Intervention Unit which offers assistance and support at a time when road accident victims and emergency services personnel need it most.
The Rapid Intervention Unit has evolved from being a pure safety vehicle that initially secured the scene of an accident until emergency services arrived, to an invaluable support for paramedic and fire personnel complete with extrication capabilities. The support vehicle operates independently from official medical and rescue vehicles, providing assistance in road accident rescue operations.
Peter De Kock, Group Risk and Credit Manager at Fury Motor Group says that the unique road accident support vehicle is first and foremost a project that belongs to the community. “There is no charge to the public for the services rendered by the unit. Our priority is to provide quality emergency support in a time of absolute need and when lives of accident victims and medical personnel depend on it,” says Peter.
Juan Marais, Sales Director of Cartrack, would like to urge motorists to take extra care on our roads as the Easter holidays gain momentum. “Many families are planning their trips to their holiday destinations, and as a result traffic congestion and accidents increase significantly over this period. A large proportion of accidents are as a result of motorists speaking on their cell phones while driving, speeding and neglecting basic safe driving rules. Drivers and other road users must recommit themselves to safe road user habits,” says Juan.
The road accident support vehicle will once again be stationed along the N3 route to Kwazulu-Natal at the Van Reenen’s Pass over the Easter long weekend – a hot spot for accidents – and will attend to any incidents in the vicinity. One of the key services that the vehicle provides is to prevent situations where a motorist crashes into an existing accident scene. Just because you have pulled your vehicle onto the shoulder of the road, does not mean that you are safe. Distracted drivers often do not have enough time to react to a change in the road conditions, which can potentially cause additional damage to an existing accident scene by further injuring accident victims, and placing the lives of emergency personnel attending to the scene at serious risk.
Cartrack provides the following road safety tips:
- Avoid speaking on your phone, but if you absolutely must, always use a hands-free mobile kit to make or receive a phone call. And never text on your phone while driving.
- Do not speed. Speed limits are there for good reason – abide by them. The time saved by increasing your speed is negligible, a few minutes at best. According to Arrive Alive, speeding is regarded as a factor in nearly one-third of all fatal crashes, so ask yourself if those few extra minutes are really worth it? Important factors to consider:
- Speed reduces the amount of available time needed to avoid a crash / to stop the vehicle
- Speed extends the distance a vehicle travels while the driver reacts to a dangerous situation
- Speed reduces the ability of the driver to steer safely around curves or objects on the road
- Speed increases the likelihood of crashing
- Speed increases the severity of a crash once it occurs
- Pay attention to road signs and markings – they are there to protect you and other road users.
- Get enough sleep before your trip and make regular stops to stretch your legs and refresh your mind.
- Keep your cool and avoid road rage.
- Have your car serviced and thoroughly checked before your trip – it must be 100% roadworthy. Double check your car’s tyres to ensure the tread is sufficient and ensure that oil, water and brake fluid levels are sufficient before you leave.
- Find out what the emergency numbers are of the places you are driving through or to and have them handy.
“The Rapid Intervention Unit has an important role to play and there is a real need for vehicles of this nature to assist in making our roads safer and providing first line of care for accident victims. But the real win for all of us would be if these accidents never happened in the first place – and it all comes down to reassessing our driver behaviour and making changes for the better,” concludes Juan Marais, Cartrack.