MED Attorneys brings traffic safety tips into focus to honour World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims

17 November 2016 | Road Safety in the Media

South African Road Accident Victim Facts[1]


• Every 43 minutes somebody in South Africa dies because of a motor vehicle accident.

• For every person that dies, 85 are admitted for treatment at a medical facility

• Pedestrians make up almost 40% of road accident deaths

• Sensitive, competent handling of victims in the immediate aftermath of the accident can have a tremendous impact on both the victim’s subsequent psychological recovery and on law enforcement efforts to solve the case.  

• Total Number of Road Traffic Crashes (RTCs) for 2015 is:  832 431[6]

• The total cost of RTCs on South Africa’s road network for 2015 amounted to an estimated R142.95 billion - equating 3.4 per cent of GDP[6]


Road deaths and injuries are sudden, violent, and traumatic. The effects are far reaching, often irreversible. To raise awareness and remember the victims of road accidents, the UN dedicates the third Sunday of November of each year to commemorate World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims (WDR). 


“WDR is earmarked as a day to remember those people who have lost their lives or been permanently injured because of their accident,” says dedicated personal injury attorney, Ryan Erasmus from MED Attorneys, who having witnessed the suffering resulting from road deaths and injuries, feels particularly strongly about creating awareness around this issue.


The day will be honoured on 20 November this year, with a special focus on post-crash care.  “The first hour after an accident is called the Golden Hour – physicians say seriously injured car crash victims need to reach comprehensive medical care within 60 minutes to ensure a good chance of survival.  At the accident scene, this scenario leaves about 12 minutes for rescuers to extricate the wounded and speed them toward the hospital1,” states the personal injury specialist from MED Attorneys, one of South Africa’s leading law firms.


“When it comes to post-crash care, the costs of providing proper medical assistance for a serious injury or replacing an income can have a dramatic effect on a family,” says Erasmus.  “In this way, as personal injury and medical negligence attorneys, we can play a role in making a family’s life easier by assisting them with financial compensation.  In instances of injuries or the loss of income, this means being able to afford the necessary expertise to cope with the post-crash situation,” says Erasmus who believes that we have a moral obligation to our children to look at ways to implement precautionary measures to prevent or at least minimise accidents.


Advocate Johan Jonck, Editor of the Arrive Alive website and manager of the Arrive Alive says, “It is a tragic fact that many accidents can be avoided by taking precautionary measures.  These include measures such as putting on a seatbelt, avoiding speeding or driving under the influence of alcohol,” says Jonck, commenting on the 2015 World Health Organisation (WHO) report findings which show that two of the main factors in South Africa responsible for accidents are drunk driving, contributing to 58% of SA road fatalities. Speeding is the second major contributor, especially in urban areas, where the speed limit is 60 km/h. [2] [3]


Another major contributor to road deaths in South Africa, as with other low- and middle-income countries is the pedestrians who, according to the 2004 Medical Research Council report account for just under 40% of the road deaths. [4]


“It is generally accepted that 85-90% of road crashes in South Africa can be attributed to driver error. This includes mistakes or error in judgement and driver recklessness, driver inattention and many other factors,” comments Jonck.


When it comes to driving on the road, the one aspect under our control is developing an awareness to be more attentive and defend ourselves against the threats from errors by other road users. These skills and techniques required are called defensive driving.



When driving defensively, we are aware and ready for whatever happens. We are cautious, yet ready to act and not passively put our fate in the hands of other drivers.   These can be placed into 4 categories as follows:



• Be visible – drive with your lights on

• Dip Headlights well in time before an approaching vehicle is within range of the main beam

• Avoid driving on the blind spot of other vehicles.




• Avoid all distractions (such as texting), keeping both eyes on the road and both hands on the steering wheel

• Be vigilant when approaching traffic lights, intersections (regardless of green or red lights) and level crossings

• Even light rain can produce dangerous conditions, particularly early in the season when the water picks up oil from the road surface, making it slippery. Tyres lose their grip at higher speeds, so slowing down in inclement weather is a fundamental defensive-driving technique.




• Know your own driving ability – if you suffer from night blindness, adopt defensive driving behaviour by finding an alternative time to travel. 

 • Stay within the speed limit always.

• Only overtake when it is absolutely safe to do so. Be aware of your vehicle capabilities such as overtaking when you are towing a trailer.

• Be alert for potholes, fallen tree branches, debris etc., especially after storms

• Share the road safely and defensively with others who might not be as cautious as you are.  Look continuously in your mirror.  Scan the road ahead or else try to see what is happening in front of the car ahead of you.



• Maintain at least a 3 second following distance.  This distance should be increased to 4 – 6 seconds at night, in foggy or rainy conditions and when the road is wet.

• Resist getting involved in incidents of road rage

• Always leave yourself an out – a place to move your vehicle, if your immediate path of travel is suddenly blocked

• Be cautious when driving alone, and avoid stopping in remote areas.

• Be courteous towards fellow road users – exercise tolerance and resist the temptation to retaliate or make gestures.


“By putting these points into practise, we are honouring the WDR and increasing the chance of saving future lives – our own, our loved ones and the lives of our fellow South Africans,” says Jonck.


“Learn to drive defensively; risk takers are collision makers.  WDR is a significant opportunity to change the way we manage our driving and our response to others to make the road safer for all,” says Jonck.


It is important to use WDR to create awareness to find ongoing solutions.  Awareness on the road is the first step in the pathway to changing behaviour which in turn can change results.   We need to take responsibility, both as individuals and as a country.


“We invite all South Africans to practise defensive driving in honour of WDR, as a starting point to decrease the number of fatalities and injuries on our roads. Each one of us can make a difference by increasing our awareness of the way we drive.   In this way, our roads can start to become less hazardous, transforming into a safer place for all our road drivers, passengers and pedestrians,” concludes Erasmus.










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