New Era (Windhoek)

8 November 2012

Namibia: Some Solutions to Curb Road Accidents

opinion

It seems that the rate of horrific road accidents are on the increase this year and the results are shockingly bothersome. According to an article in the New Era newspaper 29 October 2012, titled, 'Bus accident kills ten': "Ten people were killed and 28 injured early on Saturday morning when a truck encroached onto the other lane and collided head-on with an oncoming bus, about 30 kilometres from "Tsumeb on the way to Oshivelo.

The bus carrying 64 passengers was on its way to Oshakati from Windhoek when it crashed into a truck that strayed onto its lane at around 01h00. Nine people died on the spot while the tenth died ... in hospital," noted Mathias Haufiku.

If this news was not enough bad news for the bereaved family members and close friends who lost people in this bus to swallow, the police yet again had to be the bearer of bad news as once again they were tasked with the responsibility to inform the family members who lost their loved ones on 02 November 2012 when two pick-up trucks collided head-on, between Rehoboth and Windhoek, which resulted in a loss of seven lives.

Though we may not fully understand why road accidents are fast becoming an every month phenomenon this year alone, what I do know is that the emotional upheaval experienced by any mourner from losing a loved one to a sudden horrific road crash is never a present one and as much as we would think the measures we have put in place are working in reducing road fatalities, they are clearly not working.

It further remains beyond anyone's comprehension as to why individuals suffering from epilepsy qualify to get driving licences, when they should not, because this is also one of the causes of road accidents. Hence in the past years Namibia has experienced cases of road accidents caused as a direct result of epileptic drivers losing control of the vehicle when the epileptic condition they have took charge while driving.

Apart from the usual, the Motor Vehicle Accident of Namibia (MVA), Roads Authority (RA), the Namibian Police and all other relevant stakeholders should look at new alternative ways that are very much doable; and implementable, as solutions in dealing with the escalating numbers of road accidents on our roads.

Possible recommendations - a pattern on road accidents in all 13 regions should be identified by the government and from it a cause-effect can be established. With this fact known it will be a bit easier to devise foolproof solutions to reduce the numbers of road accidents by more than fifty percent.

The Ministry of Health and Social Services should come up with a medical health database of every individual in the country to be used by the Namibian Traffic Information System (NaTIS) to look at people's medical status in line with the requirements needed in order for an individual to qualify for a driver's licence, from a medical point of view before NaTIS issues a driver's licence to an individual.

In the wake of all these road accidents the government and relevant stakeholders should further consider putting a system in place, which monitors the movement of long-distance drivers, with the aim of ensuring that drivers of trucks, buses get at least a day or two days of rest in between after a long journey before taking off again.

Because some long distance drivers often have a tendency of going back on the road without the body getting proper rest and therefore endangering the lives of other road users by their sleeping while driving.

Another way of going about it - the government should simply put a law in place that will compel all employers to ensure that all long distance drivers must get at least a day or two of sufficient rest after having driven a long distance before embarking on another long distance drive. Employers and employees who fail to comply with this law should be fined.

In short, the seriousness with which road accidents are claiming our people's lives, must no longer be approached with a soft shoulder but instead we need to come up with innovative ways which involve a close collaboration with relevant line ministries and all stakeholders in order to intensify this fight against the escalation of road accidents on our public roads.

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