Pedestrian safety is a major cause for concern in South Africa, with between 35-40% of road fatalities being pedestrian deaths. Motorists need to be hyper-vigilant while driving during loadshedding to avoid adding to this statistic.
“Power outages could affect important road safety features such as street and traffic lights. This makes it extremely difficult for motorists to spot hazards, and even pedestrians, on the road. During loadshedding, motorists need to be especially cautious, expect the unexpected, follow the rules of the road, and slow down to give themselves more time to avoid these possible dangers,” says Wynand van Vuuren, client experience partner at King Price Insurance.
So how do we ensure pedestrian safety on our roads while traffic lights are out? Van Vuuren provides some guidelines for motorists, to help prevent road fatalities, together with the steps to follow if you’re involved in an accident with a pedestrian.
Treat intersections as four-way stops
If there’s no pointsman on duty, you must treat every intersection as a four-way stop. It’s the driver’s responsibility to double-check for pedestrians before proceeding through an intersection.
Remain cautious and vigilant at all times
Motorists shouldn’t assume that pedestrians have seen them. Motorists should also bear in mind that pedestrians may not be paying attention. And, when driving at night, motorists are urged to slow down and always have their headlights on, so that they can clearly see pedestrians and other road users.
Stop for pedestrians
When you stop at a pedestrian crossing, stop far enough away so that drivers behind you and in other lanes also have time to stop. If the car in front of you is stationary for longer than usual, it could be because it’s stopped for a pedestrian. Don’t pass if there’s any doubt!
If you’re ever involved in a collision with a pedestrian, remain calm, stop immediately, and call the police and emergency services. You’re legally required to wait at the accident scene, until emergency services arrive to assess any injuries, or until the police arrive and you have provided them with the necessary details. Leaving the scene of an accident has serious consequences that may include a fine or imprisonment. “And remember, don’t move your car, unless it’s blocking the road or endangering other motorists, or if you’re instructed to do so by the police,” says Van Vuuren.
Once you’ve taken care of these steps, let your insurer know about the accident, providing as much detail as possible. It’s both your responsibility and a legal requirement to report an accident and get a case number from the SA Police Services, if there’s been an injury or damage, and before you can claim from your insurer.
If a pedestrian is hurt or passes away because of their injuries, a claim will need to be submitted to the Road Accident Fund (RAF). The RAF provides cover to all road users, against personal injuries, death, medical costs, and loss of income arising from traffic accidents. The onus is on the injured person, or their beneficiaries in the event of their death, to claim from the RAF.
“Prevention will always be better than cure, so motorists should be cautious at every turn and every intersection… Especially during loadshedding,” says Van Vuuren.