ACCIDENTS on our roads have become a daily occurrence notwithstanding the heavy burden they place on society.
This is a very worrying situation, which needs to be addressed proactively.
Transport authorities are quick to react to incidences when an accident has happened, though the reaction will be devoid of actionable solutions, but full of rhetoric.
Authorities, through the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development seem not to be keen on finding lasting solutions to this scourge, which is claiming more lives than the so called deadly HIV and Aids.
Transport plays a connective role and it is the lifeblood of any progressive economy.
Your product or service will always remain valueless as long as there is no means to take it to a place of need.
The world is now a global village simply because there is transportation which made it possible.
You cannot physically move from one place to the other without using any form of transport — be it road, rail, sea or air.
Poor road infrastructure plays a significant role in causing avoidable accidents, resulting in injuries and deaths to our loved ones.
For instance, our Beitbridge-Chirundu economic corridor is a busy road which carries traffic into and outside Zimbabwe in large volumes and is the busiest in the region, but it remains neglected and a deathtrap for travellers.
Improper interactions between vehicles and other road users and/or road features cause road accidents too.
The situations that lead to improper interactions could be the result of complex features namely:
a) Geometric features
b) Traffic characteristics
c) Environmental characteristics
d) Vehicle design and condition
e) Road user behaviour
Authorities, through the Ministry of Transport, need to work proactively in order to make our roads passable through enacting and implementing policies that will see a first class standard of infrastructure on our roads.
Our major roads need serious rehabilitation and maintenance, and awarding road maintenance to non-reputable organisations has to stop if our roads are to be overhauled so as to reduce all these avoidable carnages.
Human error is the major culprit in road accidents.
According to the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe, most road accidents are a result of human error.
Statistics show that 93,4 percent of all avoidable accidents recorded during 2014 and 2015 were attributable to human error — drivers being the major culprits.
According to the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), 2014 annual traffic report, a total of 37 619 road traffic accidents were recorded from January 2013 to December 2013 compared to 41 016 recorded from January 2014 to December 2014.
This gave rise to an increase of nine percent in the number of traffic accidents in the country.
The police report also shows that a total of 1 787 people were killed from fatal road traffic accidents recorded from January 2013 to December 2013 compared to 1 672 people during the same period of January 2014 to December 2014.
The same report indicates that as at June 30, 2014, there were 19 284 accidents, resulting in 785 people being killed and 7 114 injuries.
Out of 19 284 reported accidents, over 200 of them involved public service vehicles.
This indeed calls for action. If a large number of public service vehicles continue to be involved in fatal crashes, surely action has to be taken to remedy this rather than engaging in unhelpful talk shows.
From 2009 to 2014, an average of 1 824 people died each year due to road traffic injuries. This means that about five people die on our roads every day while 38 others are injured.
This is unacceptable, especially given the fact that road traffic injuries are largely preventable, if the authorities, through the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development and all road users play their part.
Road rehabilitation and maintenance have to be done on a large scale using reputable organisations. Stray animals should be removed from our roads. Our vehicles also have to be maintained and remain roadworthy.
Recklessness by drivers through over-speeding, misjudgment, or inattention, overtaking errors, failure to give way, tailgating, reversing errors, obstruction on the road way, tyre burst due to under or over-inflation as well as poor quality of tyres, negligent pedestrians and cyclists, have to be corrected through behavioural change.
No amount of policing by a third party like ZRP can achieve the desired target of zero accidents. Behavioural change is the missing link. It clearly shows, from the statistics, that human error contributes a bigger percentage in our road injuries and deaths.
All road users need to know and ascertain the roadworthiness of their vehicles before and during a journey. It is equally important to know the road you are travelling on in order to avoid accidents due to the condition of the road.
Recklessness and poor conditions of our roads will continue to cost our families and the nation immensely. Do not get behind the wheel when you are over excited or when you are deeply distressed.
Economically disadvantaged families are the hardest hit by both direct medical costs, funeral costs and indirect costs such as lost wages that result from these road traffic accidents.
Road traffic accidents result in considerable financial costs, particularly to stagnant economies like ours. Zero tolerance to avoidable road accidents please.
George Nyawo, contactable on firstname.lastname@example.org and 0772 80 8080 / 0715 7575 75, writes here in his personal capacity. He is a chartered member of CILT–Zimbabwe, part of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport), a leading international professional body for everyone within logistics and transport.