What is it with the media’s obsession with the death toll on the road over Easter?
Black Easter? How is this Easter any more dark than any other?
Thousands have taken to the roads over the weekend. The laws of statistics have reared their ugly head and we have had our usual blip in road fatalities. Each individual accident was by no means random, having someone responsible for careless, or simply stupid, driving. But the overall number is entirely random. Last year we were lucky, the road toll was low. This year we were not (just like in 2008).
This is not a “black” Easter, it is simply an Easter holiday like any other. There was not an increase in crazy people or reckless driving. There was not a decrease in the vigilance of police who were, by all accounts, out in force. There were no more road works than usual. People were no more impatient than they were last year. There were just lots and lots of people on the road and, inevitably, some were not fortunate.
These nine deaths (so far) are no more or less tragic than the other 400 or so that will happen this year. Every death on the road is one too many. But it the price we pay for mobility. Fixating upon our easter road toll is not particularly useful. We need to be focussed upon the things that cause accidents all year road. In particular, we need to deal with our drunk drivers in the harshest way possible – they murder this number of people every fortnight. While we keep dishing out minor sentences for these people, we keep sending the message that we think this is a trivial problem. It is not.
It would also be prudent if we dealt with the dreadful state of our roads. We will have to get over our reluctance to pay reasonable prices for toll roads because the government simply does not have the capital to build them for free use. Or we can continue to pay the price of our substandard roading in blood.
And some people will indeed have a black Easter.