dont drink and drive

Drive safely this festive season

Gibson Mhaka
WITH the festive season already in full swing, sometimes we all have reasons to worry  especially given the increasing number of road traffic accidents, most of them fatal, being recorded during this time of the year.

Admittedly, the Christmas and New Year holidays period generally dubbed “fatal season” are historically associated with disregard of road rules and laws as well as speeding under the influence of alcohol which lead to accidents and loss of life as well as damage to property.

However, it is against this background that there is a strong need by the police to be more vigilant during this busy festive season and subsequently arrest drivers who drink and drive recklessly so as to avoid loss of lives as a result of the road accidents some of which are preventable.

If only drivers could avoid drunken driving, observe road signs and speed limits.

This is so because every single injury and death is totally preventable.

Since road deaths usually soar during the festive season police must remain steadfast in enforcing traffic rules in order to reduce carnage.

While we cannot control many of the external factors which cause road traffic accidents, motorists should drive with greater alertness, caution and courtesy.

They should also remember to share the roads with others while allowing increased travel time and schedule frequent breaks to help them remain safe during these high-pressure periods.

Sadly, despite repeated efforts to educate the drivers on the importance of road safety, human error-related accidents still remain a serious national problem. According to ZRP National Traffic Report, a shocking 93.4 percent of accidents which occurred during the festive season last year were caused by human error which included misjudgment by rivers, speeding and failure to give way.

The shocking report was later buttressed by Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe (TSCZ) which indicates that an average of five people is killed and 38 injured on a daily basis in road traffic accidents as a result of human error. The above statistics however, call on drivers to be extra careful, co-operative and courteous so as to save lives.

The figures also demand the government to reiterate its call to road traffic authorities to intensify road patrols, campaigns and raise awareness on the importance of road safety especially during the festive season which is widely celebrated by people annually.

This is because road traffic accidents lead to unexpected deaths and leave others with serious and permanent disabilities, thereby affecting the country’s development.

Passengers should not also be spared either as they should also be vigilant enough to check drivers when they are speeding and driving under the influence of alcohol.

Speaking  during the recently held Africa Day of Road Safety in Bulawayo,  Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe (TSCZ) product development  and marketing manager Ernest Muchena bemoaned the increasing number of fatal road accidents saying they affected the deceased ‘s families and impacted negatively on the surviving family members especially the children.

“Road safety is everybody’s responsibility so people should practise safe driving at all times. We sympathise with people who are indirectly affected by these accidents. Some people end up living in the streets as a result of the death of a breadwinner,” said Mr Muchena.

He said to curb this scourge during the festive season TSCZ was embarking on road safety campaigns calling on motorists to embrace careful driving. The campaigns start on 18 December and run up to 3 January.

The government, which is apparently saddened by the high number of traffic accidents in the country is also on record urging motorists to observe traffic rules and regulations at all times so as not to endanger their lives and that of other people.

Admire Ncube, a truck driver for over 30 years said to avoid road accidents during this festive season, motorists should avoid indulging in alcohol.

Ncube (65) reiterated that many accidents were caused by drunk drivers hence, motorists and other road users should not consume alcohol and proceed to drive vehicles.

“From my experience as a driver for the past 30 years I had realised that most of the traffic road accidents are caused by drunken driving hence the need by the police to be more vigilant during this festive season. They should be out to arrest drivers and motorists who drive after taking alcohol. Accidents could be avoided if the drivers and other motorists avoid taking alcohol when they are still on the road,” he said.

Bulawayo police spokesperson, Inspector Precious Simango urged members of the public to respect and follow road safety rules always.

She said after disembarking from vehicles, most people fail to check whether the road is safe before crossing.

“People should desist from boarding overloaded vehicles or buses always. They should be on the lookout for vehicles that are not roadworthy as we approach the festive season. Boarding an already overloaded bus is putting one’s life in danger,” said Inspector Simango.

She urged passengers to report errant drivers to police manning road blocks.

“We know the festive season is time to make money for transport operators. We encourage drivers to desist from working long hours in order to avoid dangers associated with fatigue,” she said.