The Zambia Road Safety Trust (ZRST) has welcomed a number of road safety measures recently undertaken by the Transport Minister, Hon Mushimba, but is calling for more to be done to speed up the process of reducing casualties and fatalities. By the end of 2016, more over 2000 people would have been killed in road traffic. More than 200 people are killed every month, including 3 children every week. In the past 5 years alone, nearly 10,000 have died on Zambia’s roads.
Since appointed as Minister, Hon Mushimba has signed into law SI 76 that has restricted PSVs moving between 21:00 hrs and 05:00 hrs. The result is zero road deaths during the night hours. We also hope that other new initiatives such as the SIs on driver fatigue management, GPS and speed limiters mandatory installation on all PSs, wearing of seatbelts, etc will start giving us what we all want, reduction on casualties and fatalities soon.
Losing a loved one in a road accident is devastating. Lives are shattered, and some never recover from the trauma. Family breakdown, job losses, depression, suicide and even poverty are the unfortunate consequences of losing a loved one in this way. There is no doubt that road transport contribute in a significant way to the prosperity of our country. However, the price being paid for this is exorbitant and unbearable. Apart from the human suffering, there is also a financial reason for the government to act now. Loss of employment, loss of productivity, health expenses, property damage and others are estimated to cost an annual economic loss of about K4 Billion or 1-3 percent of our GDP.
Lack of attention, reckless driving, drink driving, speeding, bad personal habits, social and behavioural misconduct and inconsiderate drivers of larger vehicles and buses are some of the problems that cause accidents.
As we enter the 2017, ZRST would like to see targeted enforcement, education and campaigning, place more emphasis on shared responsibility among the different system providers as well as personal responsibility. The work of the private and non-governmental sectors should not be ignored; it’s crucial and should be recognised and sustained.
ZRST says its ambition of achieving ‘vision zero’ – no more deaths and serious injuries on our roads, is still some way off. In order to fight back against road accidents, and to reverse the current trend, ZRST is suggesting the following tangible measures to be undertaken by government:
- setting of ambitious but reliable road casualty reduction targets
- ensuring stronger leadership from government and more coordinated action across government ministries;
- the better treatment for the victims of road traffic crimes;
- improving safety for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists through road designs;
Improving the way RSTA and the Police collaborate on road safety matters;
- recognition by government that employers and government that work-related road casualties are their responsibility under occupational health;
- improving arrangements for accident investigation so that learning is separated from the prosecution;
Increasing the penalties for people who cause death by careless or dangerous driving;
- adoption of a systems approach to reduce traffic accidents;
Daniel Mwamba, Chairman of Zambia Road Safety Trust said:
“As we come to the end of 2016, government should take a long, hard look at these devastating figures and current road safety management structures. The increased road fatalities reveal the danger of complacency, becoming the new normal. No road death is acceptable; the sudden and traumatic experience of a road death or serious injury can be devastating and isolating. Government should act now to reduce death and injury on our roads without compromise”.