WE, the undersigned pediatricians of the Nelson Mandela Metro, wish to express our dismay at the cavalier attitude displayed towards road safety by both the driving public and the local traffic enforcement agency. We do this fully cognisant of our own culpability in this regard.
It is well known that alcohol use is implicated in more than 65% of motor vehicle deaths. This has major impacts on both child pedestrians and child passengers.
Driving under the influence of alcohol needs to be vigorously policed and prosecuted.
Most drivers know that they may at some stage have exceeded the permitted alcohol limit. However we as parents need to take exemplary parenting seriously and consciously stop this national habit.
Our attitude of disregard as drivers towards other road users is equally shocking as evidenced by the widespread overtaking despite barrier lines, speeding, lack of safety belt usage and shooting of red traffic lights. Cellphone usage while driving puts your child's life at risk.
The use of safety belts, booster seats, car restraints and rear seating together afford your child approximately a 20-fold protection. Children under 10 years of age have limited appreciation of the potentially fatal effect of momentum in the event of a motor vehicle accident and rarely are alert enough to brace appropriately to minimise the effect of a motor vehicle accident.
In addition their relatively large heads cause them usually to fly head first into the back of the front seats or the windscreen. Thus they often sustain major brain and spinal injuries unless they were appropriately restrained.
Please do the right thing and obey road laws, strap your children in and don't drink and drive. Moreover, change the next generation's road death rate by exemplary parenting.
From the government side, we request the application of a persistent, consistent and pervasive programme of zero tolerance towards road violations.
Our cavalier attitude will be transferred to the next generation, thus perpetuating this cycle of lawlessness, violence and disregard for our fellow citizens. This ultimately leads us to the shocking South African road fatality rate of 33 per 100000.
The comparative rate in Australia is three per 100000.
Hidden in this statistic is the fact that we through our own cavalier attitude are killing our children. Our children's lives are worth it! Please do your bit.
Guy Belcher, Johan Beukes, Greg Boden, Abe Daniels, Mzi Dilima, Adele Dippennaar, Pravin Gajjar, Paul Gebers, Wayne Jones, Lungile Pepeta, Dave Purchase, Jay Raga and John Wickens, Port Elizabeth