As a country, we recently bagged the title of ‘Best Country’ in the 2023 Telegraph Travel Awards, but we seem to have a bit of a split personality. On one hand, we’re rocking those travel awards and on the other hand, we’re apparently holding the title for the worst drivers in a study comparing us to 19 other semi-developed and developed nations.
Before we dive into this vehicular adventure, let’s acknowledge that we’ve got a bit of a road problem. According to Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, our roads are like that old pair of jeans you just can’t let go of – 40% of the provincial network is past its prime and a whopping 80% of the national road network is older than your uncle’s stories about the good old days.
But hey, it’s not just the roads, we’ve got a real issue with access to safe transport options. Limited access to safe and affordable transport makes people get creative with their commutes and not always in a good way. Vulnerable road users like pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists are having a tough time out there. And then, you get taxis, affordable and convenient, sure, but they’ve got a bit of a reputation for turning the road into a real-life game of bumper cars.
Now, let’s address the issue of regulations – or more accurately, the lack of them. Enforcing traffic laws is akin to trying to gather a bunch of rowdy individuals – it’s a challenging task with uncertain outcomes. It is important to establish significant penalties for those who have a heavy foot, disregard seat belt rules and neglect to use indicators.
Last year, the government made an announcement that caught our attention – they were in the works for new smart licenses, and were set to be released in October 2023. It’s a move that seems like a step in the right direction. Plus, here’s a little bonus, these new licenses will have a longer shelf life, going from five years to a solid eight.
Keletso Mpisane, the head honcho over at digitally-based motor insurer MiWay Blink, gave it a thumbs-up and mentioned how the beefed-up security features on these new driver’s license cards, like biometric data, holograms, and watermarks, will help put the brakes on those fake licenses and in turn, make our roads safer.
Let’s be honest with ourselves, It’s not just about new licenses and better roads. It’s about us, the drivers. Some of us have a bit of a superhero complex on the road, thinking we’re invincible. But it’s time to embrace the idea that following the rules isn’t just for fun, it’s for everyone’s safety. Keletso Mpisane from MiWay Blink reminds us that being responsible on the road isn’t just a personal thing, it’s a community effort. So, let’s all take a collective deep breath, use those indicators, and remember that the road isn’t a racetrack, it’s a shared space.