Easter road death toll ‘heartbreaking’

By Farayi Machamire

The Easter road death toll has been described by traffic safety pressure groups as “heartbreaking” after a horror weekend that claimed at least 42 lives. Police spokesperson Paul Nyathi said 42 fatalities were recorded from 338 accidents.

This was a sharp spike from 22 people who lost their lives from 217 accidents last year. In 2016, 10 were killed in road accidents.

The crashes are not just a number, they are real people losing family members.

And families never get over this sort of thing Nyathi said the major causes of the accidents have been observed to be speeding, inattention, misjudgment, overtaking errors and failure to observe road rules and regulations.

The Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe (TSCZ) said human error was the major cause of road accidents.

This year, TSCZ deployed 19 road traffic safety campaign teams along all the country’s major roads and highways as part of efforts to curb road carnage during the Easter holiday.

“We must stop the blame game and own up to our mistakes as drivers, passengers, pedestrians, riders, companies, families, churches and schools,” TSCZ spokesperson Tatenda Chinoda told the Daily News yesterday.

“Human error is costing us limbs and lives. These errors can be corrected if we humanise our driving, which currently is largely psychomotor.

“It must be cognitive and affective thereby inculcating a holistic road safety culture.”

He said there appears to be blatant disregard of road rules and regulations. He said most of the Easter fatalities were due to speeding.

“Every driver must train in defensive driving because most of the crashes involved private vehicles who by law are not compelled to do the course.

“Now for their own safety, such drivers must train in defensive driving. The worst case scenario is when some of us decide to drive without being licensed using celebrity status, nature of one’s job or sheer disregard of the law.

“Road safety is everyone’s responsibility; we must all act lest we perish. Road safety education is a repent or perish gospel,” Chinoda said

Greater Harare Commuter Operators Association (Ghaco) secretary-general Ngoni Katsvairo said dilapidated roads were also a cause for concern.

“Despite the state of our roads especially Masvingo road, the major causes of road carnage is human error.

“Whether roads are bad or good, our drivers need to drive cautiously and avoid human error such as speeding, overloading, overtaking on blind corners and other parts of the roads where it is not allowed to overtake as well as just following all other road rules and regulations.

“In these rainy conditions, our roads are prone to pot holes, thus extreme caution and less speeding is always advised.

“Operators and drivers must also always make sure their vehicles are roadworthy, with enough tyre grip, sound suspension and braking systems,” Kastvairo said.

Tafadzwa Goliati of the Passengers Association of Zimbabwe (Paz) said the death toll could have been lessened if Zimbabwe had a pre-emergency protocol designed for deployment on the onset of a sudden emergency challenge.

He said the unavailability of passenger insurance on many passenger vehicles was a hindrance to those injured in road accidents.

“Hundreds in most of Zimbabwe’s government hospitals are dying or ending up disabled due to late or delayed access to emergency medical aid or in most cases victims virtually die due to the fact that they are denied emergency medical aid at a critical stage in their lives when they most need it.”

The Zimbabwe Republic Police deployed police officers who carried out awareness campaigns and enforced road rules and regulations. Police also impounded defective vehicles.

A recent government survey indicated that Zimbabwe’s roads had outlived their recommended life-span by at least three decades.

Roads are designed to go for 20 years, after which it is recommended that they should be completely overhauled and reconstructed.

However, Zimbabwe has not been able to refurbish its roads and still uses those inherited from the colonial era, except for the Mutare-Plumtree highway which was refurbished in 2013.

Most of the country’s roads are now characterised by huge potholes and sharp edges which rip tyres apart and cause accidents.  DailyNews