The Zambia Road Safety Trust (ZRST) would like to congratulate His Excellency, the President Elect of Zambia, Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu, for his re-election on 11th August 2016.
Recent figures estimate conservatively that some 2100 persons in Zambia are killed each year in road crashes and a further ten thousand people are injured (Zambia Police, 2015). These numbers are likely to almost double by 2020 unless urgent action is taken. A prevalence of under-reporting of serious crashes means that the actual number of deaths is likely to be much higher than that reported by the Police.
And according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO), between 2010 -2012, injuries and road traffic accidents were the 3rd ranked cause of deaths, accounting for almost 10% of all fatalities in Zambia. At present trends, with no effective mitigation, we project that within the next four years, road traffic injuries will rank as the 2nd leading cause of death in Zambia after HIV/AIDS, killing more than double the current number.
While, over half of the Zambia’s road deaths are vulnerable road users (pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists), the majority of those killed are men between the ages of 15 and 44, mostly breadwinners, adds the CSO 2014 annual report.
Road Accidents are often covered in the media simply as events—not as one of a leading killer of people and an enormous drain on a country’s human, health and financial resources. In addition to the tremendous traumatic and emotional impact of road crashes, there is a vast economic consequence. Nationally, road crashes typically cost the equivalent of 1-3% of our country’s Gross Domestic Product. Personally, road crashes can be the trigger that plunges a family into poverty. Every case involves someone’s life, their family and friends, and personal suffering.
The Zambia Road Safety Trust would like to appeal to the President Elect that having been given a new mandate by the Zambian people, he appreciates that road death and injury is not inevitable. Road trauma is a preventable public health challenge which can be halted with amenable actions.
As currently six to seven people are killed every day, and more than 20 seriously injured from road accidents on Zambia’s roads, President Lungu needs to act immediately as he takes office. The numbers speak for themselves: this is a public health and development crisis that is expected to worsen unless action is taken.
Political will is needed by the President Elect to ensure appropriate road safety legislation and stringent enforcement of laws by which we all need to abide. We call for capable leaders, institutions and strategies that can ensure reduced likelihood of accidents occurring and minimise the severity if a crash occur. If this cannot be ensured, families and communities will continue to grieve and our health systems will continue to bear the brunt of injury and disability due to these road accidents.
In line with the World Health Organisation, the Zambia Road Safety Trust endorses a comprehensive approach to road safety, called the Safe System approach, which recognises that, as the human body is vulnerable to injury and humans will always make mistakes, the safety of all parts of the system (e.g. road users, vehicles and roads) must be improved to help minimize the impact of those mistakes.
Zambia Road Safety Trust