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Everyone walks at some point during the day, and unfortunately, the number of pedestrian fatalities in South Africa remains high. According to statistics by the Western Cape government, pedestrians make up 57% of road fatalities in Cape Town and 44% of province-wide fatalities. This doesn’t even cover those pedestrians left with disabilities, amputations or traumatic brain injuries due to being hit by cars or taxis.

Data from The National Household Travel Survey shows the everyday risk our children face as pedestrians. In the survey, about 17,4 million South Africans walked all the way to their destination in 2021, compared to 10,7 million individuals who made use of taxis and 6,2 million who used a vehicle. Of these pedestrians, school learners who walked to their educational institution required 29 minutes to arrive at their institution. That’s 29 minutes each day these kids are at risk of being hit by a car as a pedestrian.

How You Can Make a Difference to Pedestrian Safety

Alcohol is a hazardous substance for pedestrians, research figures show that pedestrians are most likely to be hit by cars between 6 pm and midnight and of those pedestrians killed in road accidents, more than half were shown to have high alcohol levels in their bloodstream (For males specifically, nine out of ten killed were drunk). If someone you know is putting themselves at risk by walking on dangerous roads under the influence, this is a health hazard worth discussing.

If you are a motorist, make sure to slow down, especially when it’s night-time around pedestrian destinations. This could save a life in the long run by giving you more reaction time if someone decides to cross the street without looking. It is also important to note that, if you’re driving at a reasonable speed and unfortunately hit a pedestrian, the impact force is lower, which means that there’s a greater chance of their survival.

Want to make your community safer for walking?

Whether you’re a pedestrian or driver, you want to make sure that everyone can walk safely in your neighbourhood and you can make a difference by doing the following:

More Safety Tips For Pedestrians

● Always be visible. Make sure you wear bright clothing during the day and reflective materials or a flashlight at night.
● Keep off your phone and don’t listen to headphones. You need your eyes and ears to be able to take in everything around you.
● Don’t be unpredictable. Follow the road rules and obey traffic lights and other signals.
● Make sure you’re aware of cars entering and exiting driveways and parking lots.
● Walk on pavements whenever possible. If there isn’t a pavement, walk facing oncoming traffic.
● Cross streets on zebra crossings and at traffic lights whenever possible, even if this means walking a bit further.
● If there is no zebra crossing or intersection, see if you can find a well-lit area with the best view of traffic. Wait for a break in traffic and continue watching for traffic as you cross.
● Never assume a driver sees you. Make eye contact with drivers as they approach to make sure you are seen. When a driver’s eyes are on the road, they can’t see a pedestrian coming from a distance away.

More Tips for Drivers to Protect Pedestrians

● Give pedestrians the right of way at a zebra crossing and stop well back from the crossing so the cars behind you can see the crossing pedestrians to slow and stop.
● Keep an eye out for pedestrians everywhere, at all times. As much as they need to look out for you, safety is a shared responsibility.
● Be extra cautious when driving in hard-to-see conditions, such as night-time or bad weather.
● Don’t overtake vehicles stopped at a crossing. There may be people crossing that you can’t see.
● Never drive under the influence of alcohol and / or drugs.
● Follow the speed limit, especially around people on the street, and slow down when driving near schools and in residential areas.
● Reverse park so that when you drive out of a parking space, you can easily see if pedestrians are passing.

Have You Sustained Severe Injuries as a Pedestrian?

To help make up for expenses incurred as a result of an accident (including costs and rehabilitation), pedestrians injured in an accident may be eligible for compensation from the Road Accident Fund (RAF).

Adendorff Attorneys Inc. can assist you with your personal injury case against the Road Accident Fund. We are personal injury lawyers with offices in Cape Town and Pretoria but offer nationwide services. WhatsApp us on 076 911 7300, and we will get back to you.