The Zambia Road Safety Trust (ZRST)has called for a strong political will to prevent drink driving in the country.
ZRST chairperson Daniel Mwamba says in a statement recieved by ZANIS yesterday that a strong political will is needed as well as enforcement campaigns by the Zambia Police together with the Road Traffic and Safety Agency to help change the attitudes on Zambian roads.
“ ZRST, therefore, calls for strong political commitment to prevent drink driving, clearly defined legislation for BAC level and penalties for offences, strong and well publicized enforcement campaigns by the Zambia Police and RTSA, nationwide public education to change attitudes toward drinking, and strict swift enforced penalties for offenders, “ he said.
The ZRST chairperson said this when his organization , in partnership with the MADD Canada and in association with Alcohol Countermeasure Systems Corp of Canada, donated Alcoscans breathalyzers to the Zambia Police, today.
He says alcohol has huge effects on driving including poor reaction times of the driver, driver vigilance, driver visual acuity, steering efficiency and the risk of complications in injury rehabilitation and a major cause for traffic accidents in Zambia.
“We are extremely grateful for the MADD Canada’s support for ZRST’s work to save lives on Zambia’s roads. With the latest on the market, world class breathalyzers, we are excited to contribute to the prevention of unnecessary roads deaths and serious injuries resulting from alcohol consumption.
“The World Health Organisation (WHO) has estimated that alcohol has been identified as a factor in 30% to 70% of road accidents, as ZRST we think that, clearly there is an overwhelmingly strong rationale for addressing the issue of drink driving in Zambia,” he said.
And Deputy Inspector General of Police Malcolm Mulenga said the donation could not have come at better time when the Zambia Police Service is making strides to address the increased road carnages in the country.
“Today’s event marks yet another important milestone in our endeavour towards the improvement of our capacity as an institution to effectively prevent road traffic accidents in order to safeguard lives and property. In addition this gesture will enable us curb the escalating trend of drink – driving by most Zambian drivers.
“The Zambia Police Service shall continually be grateful to the Zambia Road Safety Trust for this pre-emptive initiative which will go a long way in ensuing the successful prosecution of drink-drivers, “ he said.
These breathalyzers will go a long way in the realisation of the real reduction in the number of deaths and serious injuries as a result of Traffic accidents caused on the Zambian roads due to drink and driving, he added.
On his part MADD Canada Chief Executive Office Andrew Murie said his organization recognizes the deterrent value of police having breathalyzers to detect drinking drivers.
“ We are proud of our partnership with the World Health Organisation Global Alliance and its ability to assist organizations such as the Zambia Road Safety Trust, ” he said.
Road crashes in Zambia are now the second leading cause of death and the main risk facing health and activity individuals, both young and adults today, of which the government of the day needs to tackle head-on.
Road accidents have a profound impact on our communities, costing Zambia over K4 billion annually. The WHO has estimated around 1.2 million people die each year with 30 to 50 million injured as a result of road traffic crashes.
The financial, social and economic costs are equally staggering, with over USD $500 billion worldwide of which an estimated $65 billion is suffered by low and middle income countries like Zambia.
In Zambia many people may not be aware of the impact of illegal alcohol consumption on road accidents, and this lack of knowledge can limit their support for action against drink driving. In these circumstances, ZRST is calling on the political leaders to support drink drive programmes and to pass the necessary laws.