“If the Government can act quickly on these recommendations, and define who needs to take what actions and how, stakeholders will react accordingly and together we shall save many lives”
On 26th June 2015, the Road Traffic and Safety Agency (RTSA) Director Mr. Zindaba Soko said over 400 people lost their lives in road accidents in the first 3 months of 2015. He further said that the situation may get worse based on past experiences to make forecasts for the remaining months.
Road traffic accidents— are now a third leading cause of death in Zambia behind HIV/AIDS and malaria according to Ministry of Health. Over 2000 people are killed every year, as many as 60 percent of fatalities are vulnerable road users. Sadly, 11% of all fatalities are children under 16 years of age. If present trends continue, road traffic deaths could reach beyond 3,000 by 2020.
The Zambian Road Safety Trust (ZRST) therefore calls on the Government and its agencies to take the following strategic initiatives:
- Adopt a long-term vision for a safe national transport system free from death and serious injury. A widely adopted vision is for a transport system which is eventually free from death and serious injury. The aim is to galvanise all relevant parties to take shared responsibility for safety results, especially on the roads, where most death and injury in transport occurs. Safety goals should be aligned with sustainable development goals to secure social, economic, environmental and health benefits alongside safety benefits.
- Set challenging national quantitative targets for road safety – Set time-limited quantitative targets to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries in road collisions. Measure and set targets for related intermediate outcomes such as the safety quality of the network and vehicle fleet, reductions in mean speeds, decreases in drink-driving, increases in use of protective equipment and effective emergency medical treatment of the injured.
- Adopt the Safe System approach in road safety management. Safe System
• recognises that, despite preventive efforts, road users are fallible and collisions continue to happen on the roads;
• places responsibility upon providers of the transport system for the safety of the system and responsibility upon users of the system for complying with its rules and constraints;
• aligns safety management goals with wider sustainability goals including social, economic, environmental and health goals.
These actions will proactively and coherently address shortcomings in the road system, in vehicles, in user behaviour and in the care of people injured in collisions.
- Improve road network safety by upgrading the strategic and local road network on Safe System principles targeting sections and areas of highest risk. To this end, network design should seek to separate on-coming traffic on high-volume, high-speed roads to prevent head-on collisions; provide crash protective roadsides to address run-off-road collisions; achieve safe speeds at intersections to reduce the incidence and severity of side impacts; separate motor traffic from unprotected users except where speeds are low; achieve safe speeds to provide freedom for all responsible users wherever motor vehicles mix with other users of the street or space.
- Commission an independent Road Safety Management Capacity Review (RSMCR). RSMCR has been developed internationally as a valuable tool to deploy when it is timely for a country to embark on a new phase in the longstanding effort to make use of the roads safer for all. It provides a fresh basis for affirming national ambition, leadership, accountability and management capacity for key functions across government and its partners to deliver best practice in the form of results-focused strategies, programmes and projects.
- Improve knowledge and understanding of collisions and casualties in Zambian road transport by improving the reporting of transport-related casualties by hospitals in order to fill gaps resulting from the incomplete coverage provided by police reports.
- Implement effective emergency medical response to collisions and enhanced trauma care. Studies in other countries show that many more people involved in collisions, would probably have survived and avoided long term disability if they had reached hospital sooner and received even more appropriate care.
Chairman of the Zambian Road Safety Trust, Mr Daniel Mwamba said:
” A strong governmental strategy will send out the message that road safety is a priority. If the Government can act quickly on these recommendations, and define who needs to take what actions and how, stakeholders will react accordingly and together we shall save many lives.”