Solution in sight for road carnage?

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 09:00:00 +0000

No single death at night reported since PSVs were banned by SI 76



IS THE Government’s decision to introduce Statutory Instrument (SI) Number 76 of 2016 that restricts the movement of Public Service Vehicles (PSV) between 21:00 hours and 05:00 hours a solution to the road carnage? 

Hardly did a day pass without a report of a serious road accident somewhere in the country, and it had become a source of great worry, but with the arrival of SI 76 of 2016 that prohibits PSVs from operating in the night, there has not been a single death on the road resulting from an accident so far at night.

Of late, the nation has witnessed a horrible road carnage involving mainly passenger service vehicles travelling in the night, resulting in staggering numbers of fatalities and serious injuries.

As a result various stakeholders in the transport sector had embarked on various activities in a bid to ensure road users were sensitized on road safety, with a record 55 percent accidents happening at night and 45 percent during the day.

Transport and Communications minister Brian Mushimba urged the private sector to invest in truck parking infrastructure and overnight bus stops with internationally acceptable standards.

The minister urged road users to obtain a copy of the Statutory Instrument (SI) number 76 of 2016.

Last year alone, over 2,100 people were killed in road traffic accidents, according to the Zambia Traffic Police data, but if we agree with the World Health Organization (WHO), the true figure could be more than 6,000.

And if this were in some countries, it would have long been declared a national disaster.

Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) head of public relations Fredrick Mubanga said the agency was compiling the statistics on the current road carnage and once complete they would be made known to the public.

Mr Mubanga said the reduction in night accidents was making the road safety prospect look bright and encouraging that for the first time a measure has been found that seems to work.

“The agency is compiling the statistics and as for now, we have not recorded any road accident involving a PSV at night. Otherwise the road safety prospect looks bright,” said Mr Mubanga.

Among the strategies RTSA had taken to combat the rising road crashes was the holding of a National Road Safety Indaba in collaboration with the Office of the Vice President under the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) and the Ministry of Transport and Communications, to bring together all stakeholders in finding solutions to the problem.

The Indaba’s theme – “Getting Involved in Promoting Road Safety, a Shared Responsibility” – was in line with RTSA’s strategic plan which aspired to involve all stakeholders in reducing the road carnage.

Late last year RTSA, in conjunction with the Ministry of Transport and Communication and the Zambia Police Service, embarked on a hugely successful road safety sensitization programme to curb road accidents across the country.

RTSA road safety deputy director Gladwell Banda said such programmes would enhance road safety at least by 2020.

A Zambia Road Safety Trust (ZRST) recent survey agreed with RTSA that since SI 76 was signed into law there has been zero no road death during night hours.

ZRST chairperson Daniel Mwamba said: “We also hope that other new initiatives such as the SIs on driver fatigue management, GPS and speed  limiters’ mandatory installation on all PSVs and the  wearing of seat belts will start giving us what we all want – reduction in casualties and fatalities soon,” he said.

Mr Mwamba said ZRST’s ambition of achieving ‘‘vision zero’’ – no more deaths and serious injuries on the roads – was still some way off but in sight.

He said no road death was acceptable; the sudden and traumatic experience of a road death or serious injury could be devastating and isolating.

Although the Zambia Road Safety Trust has found out that the difference between the WHO’s estimate and the official Zambian road fatality figures is large, the safety trust observed that the WHO’s figures parallel the Central Statistics Office (CSO) 2010-2012 census that put road deaths by almost 11 percent of all the causes of death in Zambia.

“To understand the enormous problem of road traffic deaths and injuries, we need accurate data, therefore I call upon the Government to urgently investigate these reports or devise a new system of having good death registration data,” Mr Mwamba said.

Mr Mwamba said some of the accidents occurring on the roads were as a result of careless mistakes arising from fatigue, and therefore it would be prudent for the Government to come up with a coherent policy on permanent checkpoints in and out of the cities.

In order to fight road accidents and reverse the current trend, Government should improve the way RSTA and the police collaborate on road safety matters, and also increase the penalties for people who cause death by careless or dangerous driving.

He said Government must investigate reports that road death official figures could be lower by 194 percent.

In order to track road death numbers over time and to compare numbers from country to country, the WHO publishes data for all countries in the biennial Global Status Reports on Road Safety.

The WHO compiles the data through surveys involving numerous stakeholders in each country worldwide using sophisticated statistical models, developed from other areas of public health where data is simply unavailable, to estimate what it believes to be an accurate number of deaths.

Zambia and almost all other sub-Saharan African countries fall into the WHO’s category of ‘‘Countries without eligible death registration data’’. South Africa is the only country classified by WHO as having good death registration data.


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