Gaborone — Ghastly driving attitudes on Botswana roads, especially during peak hours, have become a matter of serious national concern.
In a recent interview with BOPA, the Director of Traffic at the Botswana Police Service (BPS) said 'road rage' had taken a new and disconcerting prominence as the drivers failed to obey road signs.
Senior Assistant Commissioner Katlholo Mosimanegape said it was now becoming common in Botswana to see two motorists leaving their cars to continue their dispute on a parking lot, sometimes even brandishing knives and exchanging blows.
Assistant Commissioner Mosimanegape stated that last year, one person was killed along the A1 highway after such a scuffle.
"You've seen it happen, as you drive to work, someone tries to merge onto the freeway/highway and a driver in the right lane speeds up to cut the incoming car off.
You've read about it in the newspaper, where a driver chased another down the highway for three or four kilometres, the two waving and cursing at each other," he said.
He said although the term 'road rage' was fairly new in Botswana, hostile and discourteous behaviour on the roads was not, and the numbers were increasing.
Mr Mosimanegape said the rule of using a dual carriage way was simple and was always spelt out on green boards written in white: 'Keep Left, Pass Right'.
He lamented that this road sign was being disregarded by many road users, mainly drivers, although it clearly instructs them to always keep left and pass on the right hand side and not the other way round.
Assistant Commissioner Mosimanegape said it was common for drivers to drive on the right hand side, making it difficult for others to overtake.
He said drivers could drive on the right hand lane only if they would be taking a right turn or when they are overtaking, but this is not the case on the roads, with some going to the extent of signaling the following driver to jump over their car.
Mr Mosimanegape said a change of attitude such as acknowledging, with a simple wave, any consideration directed at you, or apologising for making an error on the road, could without doubt, bring about a reduction of incidents that could so often lead to hostile behaviour and crashes.
He further said the causes of road rage were many and varied, but some of them are stress, fatigue and frustration.
Mr Mosimanegape said if drivers were to adopt a more courteous approach, these factors could be greatly reduced and maybe the problem of road rage could simply be 'waved' away.
He said road rage could not be associated with any ailment, but it was essentially an expression of anger that usually has nothing to do with traffic or driving, guessing that it was probably a behaviour related to 'acting out', which is mostly common among young drivers, who lose their temper for nothing.
Mr Mosimanegape appealed to road users to find other ways of releasing anger that may have been building up and follow road signs to the latter as they are there to guide and regulate them on how best to use the road safely.
He said from January to March, 2020, the country lost 90 people due to car crashes.
He said in January 2020, ten drivers, seven passengers and ten pedestrians perished during those road traffic accidents, while in February of the same year 12 drivers, 10 passengers and eight pedestrians died due to road traffic accidents while in March, nine drivers, 15 passengers and nine pedestrians died in road accidents.
Mr Mosimanegape said during the same period this year, 72 people had already died, with 21 deaths recorded in January, 12 in February and 39 in March.
He said in January 2021, two drivers, 12 passengers and seven pedestrians died, while in February two drivers, six passengers and four pedestrians died due to road traffic accidents.
He said in March the numbers went up with 12 drivers, 18 passengers and nine pedestrians losing their lives due to motor vehicles accidents.
According to World Health Organisation Global Status Report on road safety, approximately 1.3 million people die on the world's roads each year, while between 20 and 50 million sustain non-fatal injuries.
The report is the first broad assessment of the road safety situation in 178 countries, using data drawn from a standardised survey.
The results show that road traffic injuries remain a major public health problem, particularly for low-income and middle-income countries.
Pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists make up almost half of those killed on the roads, highlighting the need for these road users to be given more attention in road safety programmes, it says.
Source : BOPA