Somerset West – Cars whizzed by on either side of the Cardinal weighbridge in Somerset West at the launch of the 2017 Easter Road Safety campaign.
The island, between the N2 and R102 roads, was host to dozens of police, emergency and provincial traffic vehicles.
A display of safety was set up hours before the 9am start time of the event, where vehicles were pulled over on the R102 and inspected.
Volunteers set up the displays during a windy morning amid an array of flashing blue police lights in preparation for VIPs and other guests, including Deputy Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga, who inspected the vehicles, even climbing inside the luggage compartment of a bus.
The event was kicked off by Provincial Traffic Chief Kenny Africa, who said 40 fatalities per day occur nationally on South African roads.
Africa spoke of the socio-economic aspects of road accidents and how families are often torn apart due to fatalities and severe injuries.
He said R3 billion is lost annually due to fatalities, road repairs, medical expenses and compensation.
He also said that the Road Accident Fund pays up to R15 billion annually, with R1 billion of that going to continued medical support.
It was “heartening” to see political representatives and private stakeholders coming together for the sake of road safety, Africa said.
The campaign aims to reduce fatal crashes by half by 2020, and is aligned with the Millennium Development Goals and the United Nations Decade of Action.
He highlighted the need for collective responsibility. “We are in this together,” he said.
Deputy Minister Chikunga reiterated the sentiments of collective responsibility, referring to a motto of “One message, many voices”.
“We view road safety as a daily issue,” she said.
She opened her address with a tribute to Ahmed Kathrada, and recent road crash victim, actor Joe Mafela.
She said the programme will be a 365 days one, which is sustainable and consistent. She said the department will take action through “education, legislation and enforcement”.
She urged road users to report misdemeanours, especially people texting while driving, speeding and those who jump traffic lights.
“Road safety is every citizen’s responsibility and given that safety starts with an individual road user itself, whether motorist, passenger or pedestrian, the involvement of the entire civil society on an ongoing basis can never be overstated,” she said.