Home » General » Let’s Make This the Safest Ever Easter [opinion]

The road toll from the Easter holidays last year is no joke at 50 dead and 273 injured, 2012 was better with 23 dead and 150 injured, according to official information released by Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi.

(Contrast that with zero fatalities for New Zealand in the same year!)

The survivors of the deceased, particularly the spouse and children, and the grievously injured, will never be the same again.

They live the rest of their anguished lives with cannot-be-answered “why” questions. With each serious road traffic accident (RTA), the price to pay is incalculable, life-long trauma.

Everyone setting out to drive must, firstly, possess appropriate licensing.

Secondly, one must ensure the vehicle is in good condition, with all requisite legal papers.

Ensure your tyres are properly inflated and that your spare wheel, jack and wheel spanner, as well as fire extinguisher and danger warning triangles are safely stored.

Please plan your trip sufficiently, and be well-rested before you depart.

On a long trip, taking frequent breaks to stretch and take a short rest could be lifesaving.

Should you feel sleepy, the only solution is napping, not foolishly driving faster to arrive earlier.

Traffic Friday urges motorists to desist from driving at night, if possible. Night driving exponentially increases danger. The police routinely discourage night-time driving.

Also consider that help is slow to come at night, should you be involved in an accident.

At Easter, the demon of recklessness arises, seeking who it may devour. That deadly wizard is in the shape of you and I. It is sad that adult human beings get childishly carried away in the excitement of the holidays and they drink too much, drive too long and too fast etc.

It is more like pushing the envelope till something gives! That is an assured recipe for disaster. Uncharacteristic, widespread rains, add to the potential danger.

In my opinion, the worst offence is drinking and driving. Driving under the influence (of alcoholdrugs) is intolerable.

Because the drunk is a big contributor to accidents, we can significantly reduce accidents by refraining from drinking and driving.

Sadly, ZRP Traffic seemingly cannot police what in my book is the worst road offence a serious indictment on the police. I remain dismayed at cyclists that use the road at night and are not lit at all or do not have reflective regalia. The major culprits are security guards.

I have no idea why the police are not interested in these guys, which also provides evidence of inequitable policing. I pray that this Easter, the police also target reckless pedestrians, for they contribute to the high number of accidents.

Pedestrians and cyclists blatantly use the wrong side of the road, and confuse and endanger themselves and motorists. Overloading is an ignored killer and that includes seating four or more adults in the back of a car where there’s seat belt provision for three only. In addition to other penalties, the police must eject excess passengers on sight, for offending private and public service vehicles.

Speeding (driving too fast for conditions), inattention, overtaking errors etc are constantly cited by the police as major RTA causes. Additionally, the driver and all his passengers must fasten their seat belt. That simple belt may be the vital, last line of defence in an accident.

All public transport operators must operate strictly in terms of their published schedules and adhere to the lawful timetable, failing which offenders should summarily lose their licences.

In this regard though, the police and the Ministry of Transport are diseased by inherent inaction.

The police have issued the routine, pre-holiday aisory, discouraging dangerous behaviour. We then expect the police to be the diligent enforcer that will pick-out recklessness and fine or escalate some matters to the courts.

Traffic Friday always argues that traffic police will only be able to isolate more dangerous drivers on the move, in markedunmarked cars not at a static police checkpoint. Yes, the roadblock serves its purpose, but it fails to expose the bad drivers that dangerously overtake on the blind rise, the racing buses etc.

Mobility does it the old-fashioned rhetoric of “the police will be out in full force” — at a static roadblock — is killing effective traffic policing. Sadly, our cops seemingly only know erecting road blocks all over.

The Highway Code ominously warns “a vehicle is a good means of transport, but a dangerous weapon in the hands of reckless people”. It adds, ” . . . good road behaviour does not come about of its own accord it is the outcome of the intelligent practice of self-discipline . . . To disobey traffic laws is a betrayal of the trust that society placed in you when you were authorised to share the road. But obeying such laws is not enough, a constant sense of responsibility and an awareness of the ever-lurking accident is vital.”

Should you be involved in a killing or maiming — and the possibility is high — you (and your loved ones) may endure the bitter consequences of being haunted for life.

For those of us fortunate enough to have never been involved in the indescribable drama of an RTA, the last thing we ever imagine is us getting involved in an accident. You, see somehow, accidents always happen to others!

In a way, sadly, that may cause us to lose our guard over time, yet we should always be overzealous on road safety matters, especially at Easter.

Motorists, please remember that Easter is just a few days meant to provide relief from our unending daily slog and to commemorate the Christ, for Christian believers.

Days are already hard enough in Zimbabwe, without anyone needlessly adding to the misery. An accident is costly it becomes incalculable with the death of innocent persons, loss of life and limb, and the destruction of property.

Dearest cops, the Easter Holiday is not for the evil among you to design criminal plans for intensifying looting from motorists. Remember, it’s not worthy savaging your career for a few ill-gotten green backs.

Be warned: top cop Augustine Chihuri will mercilessly take you to the cleaners if you’re exposed for despicable activity. Irreplaceable human life cannot be treated cheaply because we are in Zimbabwe.

I yearn for the surreal experience of a fatality-free Easter holidays, just like in New Zealand. Though not simple and straight-forward, the fact is that if each driver drove as they were taught at driving school, then surely, it is possible to have a fatality-free holiday.

Now, wouldn’t that be an astonishing new standard? With a true expression of respect for each other on the road, “Zero Harm is Possible!”

The Easter holidays are here please keep the driving ‘happy, happy!’

And sadly, at the time of submitting this article, Traffic Friday learnt that four people died on the spot on Tuesday night after a head-on smash involving two cars, between Harare and Bindura. The offending vehicle allegedly had no lights and failed to execute an overtaking action. No lights on the highway, at night? Zvakaoma!

Gerald Maguranyanga moderates Road Safety Africa, on www.facebook.comRoadSafetyAfrica, an interactive community page that solicits ideas to curb road traffic accidents in Zimbabwe and Africa.

Source : The Herald