Love them or hate them, motorists have an obligation to ensure the safety of other road users they share the tarmac with.
After the Argus was cancelled earlier this year due to poor weather conditions, cyclists across the country and the world were left distraught that their favourite race had been so unceremoniously called off. Many motorists, however, rejoiced at the prospect of not having to navigate a sea of lycra-clad cyclists on flimsy road bikes for a whole year. Although the next iteration of the famous race is still months away, the lycra army is slowly starting to filter back onto busy roadways as they begin their preparations for next year’s race.
The National Road Traffic Act is very clear on the obligations of motorists when it comes to cyclists and pedestrians.
Motorists are not allowed to park their cars on any parts of the road made specifically for pedestrian use, unless expressly indicated by road signs. This includes the sidewalk of a public road, a traffic island, or pedestrian lane, as well as pedestrian crossings. Breaking these laws can result in your vehicle being towed and impounded by traffic cops, at the expense of the owner.
When approaching pedestrian crossings, motorists are required to slow down and stop to give pedestrians right of way. It is illegal to pass another car that is stopped at a pedestrian crossing to give pedestrians the right of way.
What to do if you hit a pedestrian or cyclist
If you’re involved in a collision with a pedestrian or cyclist, you as the motorist must:
- Stop your car immediately
- Report the accident
- Check if anyone has sustained an injury
- Give assistance to the injured person
- Provide your details if asked
- If a person is killed or injured in the accident, it must be reported within 24-hours
- Don’t move the vehicle involved in an accident in which someone has been injured or killed until authorised by a traffic officer, unless the accident is completely obstructing traffic, in which case it can be moved sufficiently to allow the passage of traffic.
Cyclists also have obligations when it comes to road safety. According to ArriveAlive.co.za, cyclists are required to follow the rules of the road, and have their own set of regulations as well, including:
- Cyclists may not carry passengers on the handlebars
- Cyclists must ride in single file
- Cyclists may not hold onto cars in motion
Whatever you do, don’t pull a ‘hit-and-run’. If you do not report an accident as soon as possible after it happens, you can be prosecuted for not doing so. If you are prosecuted for your involvement in a collision, prosecutors must gather evidence to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you are guilty in terms of criminal law. If the State finds you guilty of reckless or negligent driving, you may face harsh consequences including heavy jail sentences.
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