Increase in road accidents worrying

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THE continued increase in road accidents needlessly claiming people’s lives has become a worrying trend during this festive season, which the Zimbabwe Republic Police must deal with decisively.

On Sunday, 18 people perished near Mutoko Business Centre in a head-on collision. We have and will continue to write in this column against road carnage in the country, which is claiming hundreds of lives annually. It is pertinent at this point that stakeholders focus on reducing the occurrence of accidents to make it safer for road users.

While the ministry of Transport has done well to hasten the maintenance, patching up as well expanding of some roads, it appears there is still more work to be done.

The government has prioritised the widening of the Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge road to contain the growing statistics of accidents. According to global statistics, 1,3 million people die each year on the world’s roads and over 90 percent of deaths on the roads occur in low and middle income countries.

It has been globally observed that road traffic injuries on the African continent are the fourth leading cause of death outside HIV and Aids, malaria and tuberculosis. According to UN statistics, by this year, the worldwide fatalities from road crashes would have overtaken those from HIV and Aids.

According to the evidence, the major causes of accidents in Zimbabwe include bad state of roads, speeding, drunken driving, fatigue, driver attitude, use of cellphones while driving, use of second hand tyres, corruption in the issuance of driver’s licences and lack of traffic enforcement, among other issues.

The police have it on record that over 85 percent of road accidents are caused by human error. This justifies the urgent need for ruthless enforcement of the law by the police to curb the needless and avoidable loss of life.

Several reports show that most drivers, especially of public service vehicles, do not follow driving regulations and lack discipline and patience. In Zimbabwe, most people drive “aggressively”, negligently and without due care or attention.

Such reckless driving by both licensed and unlicensed drivers has resulted in numerous road accidents. However, many people caught driving without licences get away with paying fines.

The government needs to be serious about the issue and introduce deterrent penalties for such offences that put people’s lives at risk.

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