Government (and road users) must do better this Easter

While the government has in the past implemented several seasonal road safety campaigns, particularly over the Easter period, road fatalities are still increasing over this period and more needs to be done to improve the situation. The Automobile Association (AA) says government’s interventions have had a limited impact in terms of reducing fatality numbers, and that it’s time to adopt a new approach.

“Government needs to acknowledge that campaigns at specific times of the year – although well-intentioned – will not deliver any positive outcomes if proper traffic law enforcement and road safety education is not also conducted every other day of the year.

Bad driving behaviour can only change if there is consistent application of road traffic laws and regulations and if this isn’t done for all 52 weeks of the year there is little hope of changing it during a two- or three-week blitz at Easter or at the end of the year,” the AA notes.

The Easter period in 2022 saw 161 recorded fatalities which increased to 225 fatalities last year, an almost 40% increase year-on-year. These increases, and the country’s horrific annual road fatality statistics, make it impossible for South Africa to achieve the United Nations Global Road Safety goal of reducing traffic deaths by half by 2030.

“Research by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) has shown that road crashes and fatalities cost the economy hundreds of billions of Rands annually, so it is in everyone’s interests that more is done to improve road safety. Besides this financial loss, the impact on families of the deaths of relatives in road crashes cannot be calculated and, sadly, the situation in South Africa is not improving at a fast enough pace,” says the AA.

The Association says it’s imperative that government urgently considers proposals to increase the number of traffic law enforcers by at least 50%, increase visible policing across the country (especially on major roads), that it repairs and maintains road infrastructure, and introduces more intensive road safety education campaigns in schools.

Road safety campaigns, the AA notes, should also be held throughout the year and not just at Easter or at the end of the year.

While government has much to consider in terms of improving road safety, the AA says road users must also take responsibility and obey the rules of the road. It notes that any efforts by government cannot succeed if road users don’t also play their role in making the country’s roads safer.

Ahead of the Easter weekend the AA also offers some tips of travellers to ensure their journeys are safe. These include:

  1. Watch the speed limit – not the clock

Speeding is responsible for almost 30% of all fatal road crashes. It is more important to get to a destination than how long it takes to get there. Remember, the speed limit is not a target!

  1. Buckle up all passengers

Studies conducted throughout the world have shown that seatbelts save lives when worn and fitted correctly. The use of seatbelts has shown to reduce the probability of being killed by 40-50% for drivers and front seat passengers, and by about 25% for passengers in rear seats.

  1. Check rear-view mirrors diligently 

The rear-view mirror promotes an alert driving experience by allowing drivers to see behind their vehicle without turning their head. By checking the rear-view mirror, drivers can monitor traffic and prepare for any potential dangers.

  1. Stop when tired 

Tired drivers have slower reaction times and suffer from reduced attention, awareness, and ability to control their vehicles. Research suggests driving tired can be as dangerous as drunk driving. The AA again urges all drivers to stop every two hours or every 200km to stretch their legs and get fresh air before continuing with their trips.

  1. Hands off the phone, eyes on the road

Anything that diverts attention away from the main task of driving is a distraction. Anything that takes a driver’s eyes off the road and which diverts a driver’s attention from the road is dangerous. This includes cellphone usage, eating, or do anything other than focussing on the road ahead. 

  1. Share the road

Crashes can be avoided by identifying and sharing the road with other users. Always recognise that pedestrians are especially vulnerable because they do not have the same protection drivers have in a vehicle. Drivers have a responsibility to take every precaution to avoid hitting pedestrians.

  1. Keep a safe following distance 

A safe following distance is one of the golden rules of being a smart driver. It helps maintain a steady speed and gives time and space to decelerate or accelerate smoothly when needed. It also provides an escape route if needed.

  1. Overtake safely

Overtaking when it is not safe to do so accounts for a high rate of fatalities on South African roads. Only overtake when it is legal to do so (e.g., not over a solid white line), and when the oncoming traffic is clear enough that it is safe to do so. Never overtake when you cannot see any oncoming traffic.

“It is also critical that vehicles are in good mechanical condition before any journey – especially a long journey – is taken. If you have any doubts about the condition of a vehicle it is critical to have it checked out before you travel,” urges the AA.

An excellent place to get this done is at one of the AA’s Auto Centres which offer a comprehensive menu of service, maintenance and repair options with transparent service and honest feedback. And, to ensure you are covered properly this Easter, the AA will perform a free 125-point check on your vehicle ahead of the long-weekend. For more information or to book a service at one of the AA’s Auto Centres, visit or for your nearest participating AA Approved auto dealer.