Windhoek — According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Namibia is ranked first in the world in terms of the number of road deaths per 100 000 residents. Even though Africa accounts for just 2 percent of registered vehicles, the continent is responsible for about 16 percent of annual global road deaths.
Africa makes up 12 percent of the world's population. A recent study by Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle, who head the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute, also indicated that in Namibia's residents are 53 percent more likely to die in a vehicle collision than from cancer. The two compiled their study also using WHO statistics. The study is called Mortality from Road Crashes in 193 Countries: A Comparison with Other Leading Causes of Death.
Most of these road deaths, which have been described as a serious public health problem in Africa and other low to middle-income regions, have been attributed to poor road infrastructure and weak preventative measures. However, in Namibia, which has an excellent road infrastructure, the high rate of fatal road accidents is mostly blamed on bad driver attitude. This is according to Hileni Fillemon, Manager for Corporate Communications at the Roads Authority (RA).
"Most of the accidents that happen on our roads are head-on collisions. It is therefore safe to conclude that the cause of the high rate of accidents on our roads is driver attitude or a basic disregard of road traffic rules," explained Fillemon.
She added that the Roads Authority spends approximately between N$600 million and N$800 million annually on maintenance of Namibia's road network to ensure the country's road infrastructure remains one of the best on the continent and is on par with the best in the world.
"Drivers should exercise patience, and observe and adhere to the rules of the road at all times. Additionally, drivers must observe their speed limits and also adjust their speed according to road and weather conditions. Overtake when it is safe to do so and do not overtake at blind spots. Drivers must also ensure that their vehicles are roadworthy when travelling long distances," advised Fillemon.
The top ten countries with the most road deaths per annum (Source: WHO) 1. Namibia
7. Democratic Republi of Congo
8. Central African Republic