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Easter road statistics: the pedestrian dilemma

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The Easter road crash and fatality rates were released for 2021. The stats were analysed in comparison to the stats from 2019 as the country was in hard lockdown over the Easter period in 2020 and experienced a very low number of crashes. The current stats reveal a 2.1% drop in the total number of crashes and 9.6% decline in fatalities.

An area of concern is the high number of crashes and fatalities involving pedestrians. The CEO of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, assesses the situation: “There was an increase of 5% in the number of pedestrian fatalities to 35%. The high number of crashes involving pedestrians is one that affects all drivers.

“Even if you yourself are not a pedestrian, it is your responsibility as a driver to be cautious of pedestrians. Give them right of way wherever necessary and generally do whatever is within your means to ensure that no pedestrian is injured or killed on the roads,” says Herbert.

Herbert provides some information on sharing the road with pedestrians that clarifies each driver’s role:

  • Pedestrians are considered official road users and have equal rights when on or beside the road as those in a vehicle
  • Just as drivers need to avoid negligent driving, pedestrians need to ensure they are visible to drivers and do not take risks when crossing roads
  • Pedestrians are obligated to walk on sidewalks but when one is not available, they may walk on the road as close to the curb as possible
  • Jaywalking is illegal and pedestrians may only cross roads at intersections or at pedestrian crossings

Despite the existence of these regulations, they are often no adhered to. Follow these tips to protect both yourself and pedestrians:

  • Always give pedestrians a gap of 1.5 to 2m when passing
  • Adjust your speed especially if it looks like a pedestrian is walking unsteadily or stepping into the road unexpectedly
  • If a pedestrian appears intoxicated, call authorities if you can safely do so
  • Increase your space even more in this instance
  • Never assume a pedestrian will never cross a freeway. Instead, keep to the speed limit and watch the sides of the roads to quickly identify pedestrians and judge whether they may cross
  • Often pedestrians will make eye contact with oncoming drivers to gauge the safety of crossing
  • Avoid driving when visibility is low such as at night, dusk, dawn or while raining
  • Be aware of sign posts that warn about pedestrians crossing and adjust your driving
  • Be cautious of pedestrians at bus stops or when public transport stops to offload passengers
  • If the car ahead of you suddenly stops, determine the reason for doing this before you quickly swerve around them

Before the next long weekend approaches, be sure to keep these tips in mind. “All road users deserve equal respect and safety on the roads. Be a driver who does their part in ensuring this,” says Herbert.

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