19 November 2012

Zambia: Road Accidents - We Can Avoid Them!

THE statistics of people who have died or maimed through road traffic accidents the world over are definitely alarming.

According to a message from United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims which fell yesterday indicate that this year alone 1.2 million people have died in road traffic accidents while over 50 million are injured each year.

These figures are by any means too much for human beings, in a world under attack of killer diseases such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, TB, malaria, etc.

Only 18 months ago, governments agreed to a Decade of Action for Road Safety, 2011 - 2020, with a pledge to save five million lives by implementing road safety strategies and information campaigns and enhancing and enforcing legislation.

In Zambia, these statistics are even more worrying because almost on a daily basis, a number of accidents are reported and a number of people are either lose their lives or they are fatally injured.

Many have lost lives through accidents involving passenger transport such as buses, trucks and cars while others are poor pedestrians crossing the roads and are hit by speeding motorists.

Some accidents that have occurred in Zambia were such that many lives were lost in one accident. Here the Kawambwa Boys accident in which over 20 pupils perished while in others, several people died when long distance passenger buses overturned especially on the great East road.

All these can be avoided if motorists also play their part by adhering to road safety rules and regulations.

Simple regulations like do not drink and drive, always wear your seat belt and observing of traffic lights are some of the many important issues that motorists tend to ignore.

When one has taken alcohol, the judgment level is not and can never be the same with the other who is sober.

It is also important to note that Mr Ban in his message says 90 per cent of road traffic accidents and injuries occur in low and middle income countries. Most of the victims are pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.

Certainly the deaths of these categories of road users can be avoided only if motorists can look back at how many people have died on the roads and start being careful.

It is equally critical that existing laws pertaining to road use are periodically reviewed to match with the changing trends of the construction of the road infrastructure.

In Zambia, there are areas where there are no traffic lights and a motorist who goes to an area where there are traffic lights may not be too sure of what to do. Laws on the use of seat belts, motorcycle helmets, etc should be enforced.

The RTSA and other stakeholders including pedestrians all have a role to play in ensuring road safety otherwise commemorating of those who die in RTA's will be done every year without achieving any positive results.

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