ROAD accidents continue claiming more and more lives despite police warnings and advice to drivers to take the wheel with the responsibility it demands. As we report elsewhere in this issue, the number of people killed in road accidents since the beginning of the festive season this year has risen to 134, while 736 others have been injured in 795 accidents recorded so far.
The fatalities are almost double the 72 people who perished during the same period last year with 799 others injured in 555 accidents.
This makes this year's one of the bloodiest Christmases in years despite the heavy police presence on the roads.
What this means is over 134 families were plunged into mourning at a time they were supposed to be rejoicing.
What this means is scores of families had members who either lost breadwinners, mothers, fathers, brothers and/or sisters.
Yet it could all have been prevented had the people concerned exercised caution on the roads or ensured that their vehicles were roadworthy.
Police have attributed the accidents to speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol, inattention, overtaking and reversing errors as well as mechanical faults.
Painful as it is to contemplate, but more lives will be lost on the roads before the year is out and we feel duty bound to remind each other of a few precautions that could be the difference between life and death.
Before embarking on a journey ensure that you get enough sleep the night before.
This will ensure that you are not easily fatigued or fall prey to highway hypnosis.
If you are stressed or ill, avoid driving long distances.
You also need to plan your journey and the route you will take. This will keep you from speeding or attempting to take short-cuts.
Most importantly, ensure that your vehicle is fit for the road.
Check tyres for damage and/or abnormal wear.
The tyre treads must pass the match stick test: that is the depth of the tread should not be less than the head of a matchstick, if its less, then change the tyres.
Insufficient treads translate to lower traction and poor vehicle control, particularly in the prevailing wet weather conditions.
Also ensure that your tyres are inflated to the requisite air pressure for your load and continue checking the pressure regularly throughout your trip.
Incorrect tyre pressure can lead to overheating which can cause tyre bursts.
And one of the things we ignore at our own peril is the seat belt, always buckle before starting your car and ensure that your passengers buckle up too.