Is a zero injury crash rate achievable?

Christmas 2015 is over and the New Year has arrived. Many of us reminisce over the past year and what lie ahead for us this year. Most people have had a great time with family and friends. Unfortunately, for some it was not so great at all – having had friends, family involved in fatal or serious injury crashes.

This brings up the argument whether it is possible to have road use without serious injury crashes. Many road safety professionals believe it is achievable. Compare the millions of kilometres travelled without incident with the relatively small number that ends up in disaster.

Why is it that we regard travel by car less risky than flying, even though statistics prove that it is a false belief? Accept that there are risks involved. When large, heavy objects (vehicles) move randomly in different directions and at different speeds, operated by people with different skill levels, we should expect there would be risks.

The “she’ll be alright” attitude does not help either. A driver should take full responsibility when getting in the driver seat. Part of the assignment is to participate consciously on the road network. If you do not, you are part of the weakest link.

Become more aware of your surroundings, like what dangers are there on the side of the road, the road surface etc. Is the vehicle you are using well-maintained and street legal. Do you check the tyres, lights, oil levels etc. regularly – at least once a month?

It is interesting that most crashes happen on bright clear days, because when in bad weather or under stressful driving conditions, our senses become elevated and we usually adapt to more carful driving modes.

There are more to driving than just controlling the speed and direction of the vehicle. Studies have shown that the biggest influence for road safety may not necessary be safe driving in itself, but rather the perceptual capabilities of the driver.  

It is therefore essential to get all drivers to reflect on their attitude towards safer driving beliefs before we will see less serious crashes on our roads. While we are waiting for people to consider this, crashes will still be a major cause of broken families.   

Happy New Year and Safer journeys :)

Daniel Naudé