THE United Nations has designated the third week of May 2021 to commemorate the Sixth United Nations (UN) Global Road Safety Week. The UN Global Road Safety Week will be commemorated from May 17 to 23, 2021 under the theme Managing Speed.
The UN Global Road Safety Week is dedicated to heighten the demand for accelerated road safety advocacy and traffic law enforcement at global, national and local levels. The commemoration is a call to action for all road safety stakeholders including UN member states and governments to demonstrate commitment towards the reduction of road traffic accidents and fatalities.
To commemorate the 6th UN Global Road Safety Week, the Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA), other road safety stakeholders including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Health Organisation will carry-out week-long activities with special focus on speed management in line with the theme for the commemoration.
This year’s theme for the UN Global Road Safety, “Managing Speed” adds a voice to the call for 30 km/h speed limits to be the norm for cities, towns and built up areas like villages worldwide. The theme draws our attention to the high number of road traffic crashes that occur on our roads primarily as a result of excessive speed, among others.
The theme encourages drivers to slow down to 30km/h in residential areas and to adhere to speed limits on the highways. It is equally important that as adults we begin to think of practicing a good road safety culture for the benefit of our children, who are the future of our country.
The commemoration of the sixth United Nations Global Road Safety Week is a call to action for all road safety stakeholders including UN member states and governments to demonstrate commitment towards the reduction of road traffic accidents and fatalities in the country by tackling the ever increasing number of speed associated road crashes.
Therefore, this week, we discuss driving speed, the risk and management as means of enhancing road safety advocacy on speed management.
Speed is an important factor in road safety. Speed not only affects the severity of a crash, but is also related to the risk of being involved in a crash. The higher the speed, the greater the stopping distance required, and hence the increased risk of a crash.
The frequency of speeding vehicles is so prominent along the major highways in Zambia. Accidents statistics indicate that road traffic crashes involving speeding drivers are prominent on the highways and built-up areas.
Research has shown that drivers driving at high speed have the greatest risk of being involved in a road crash than drivers driving at lower speed. Additionally, the impact, chances of sustaining serious injuries and death are very high as compared to a driver moving at slow speed. Further, the extent of the damage to the vehicle, property and road furniture is equally extensive in a road crash involving a vehicle moving at high speed.
Apart from the trauma and human suffering associated with road traffic crashes, the impact on the economy is enormous.
Speeding has many disadvantages than advantages on the road which include reduced reaction time, poor judgement of distance, and increased severity of injury.
Therefore, motorists and passengers have the responsibility to ensure that vehicles move at appropriate speed. Speed management is a very important tool for improving road safety. However, improving compliance with speed limits and reducing unsafe driving speed are not easy tasks as many drivers do not recognize the risks involved and often the perceived benefits of speeding outweigh the perceived problems that can result.
Thus, the management of speed calls for a concerted, long-term, multi-disciplinary response by all stakeholders.
Reducing motor vehicle speed where the road user mix includes a high volume of vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists is especially important and should be followed by all motorists.
Excessive and inappropriate speed is causing a serious and worsening road safety problem in Zambia, and a call for change in bad driver behavior in this regard cannot be over emphasised.
A number of research projects conducted globally have clearly identified inappropriate speed as being a particular problem. Thus, as a country we equally have a portion of this problem which needs to be addressed immediately.
As a country, we have started drawing lessons from successful and non-successful initiatives used to illustrate the advice provided, and put in place workable speed management strategies such as speed zooning, speed culming, and speed limit measures including the installation of Global Position Systems (GPS) devices on long distance public transport such as buses and trucks.
The RTSA is ensuring that all bus operators implement the Road Safety Fleet Management Policy of 2017 which is underpinned by the five factors namely: (i) Driver Management; (ii) Vehicle Management; (iii) Journey Management (including installation of the Global Positioning System – GPS); (iv) Health and Safety at the Workplace; and (v) Organisational Management. This is in a bid to manage speed related factors.
Additionally, there is need to consider the potential role of measures involving engineering and enforcement, as well as using education to change speed related behavior.
To actualise this personal responsibility of road safety, all stakeholders are encouraged to participate in road safety matters. Public and private institutions, Public Service Vehicle Operators and drivers, the media, policy makers and all stakeholders should take up initiatives to promote road safety at all levels.
As we commemorate the sixth UN Global Road Safety Week, all stakeholders are implored to heighten road safety advocacy during this week and beyond.
There is also urgent need for motorists to change the bad driver attitude being exhibited on the road which is characterised by a trend of speeding especially along the major highways, a situation which has been cited as one of the major causes of accidents on the Zambian roads.
Motorists should therefore, follow appropriate speed limits at all times.
*The author is Head – Public Relations
Road Transport and Safety Agency
Road Traffic Crashes contributory factors Driver errors