EDITORIAL COMMENT: Save lives, observe road rules and regulations

Safety-First

The time for us to rest, party, travel and get merry while celebrating the birth of Christ is upon us.

Schools closed last week and businesses are winding up their operations this week as the festive season begins.  The Christmas break will this year be unique as it comes a few days after the country entered a new political dispensation that must usher in an era of economic recovery and growth, political tolerance and general comradeship after some 17 years of bleak Christmases, economic despondency and conflict.

On Friday thousands upon thousands will begin the trek to their homes — mostly rural and a few urban — and to holiday destinations across the country.

Activity is already increasing at Beitbridge Border Post as thousands of Zimbabwean citizens who are based in South Africa are streaming back home for the festive season.

Long winding queues of vehicles and people have started forming at both sides of the border, especially in evenings since December 7.

Statistics from the Department of Immigration show that an average of 24 000 travellers, inclusive of arrival and departures, were being cleared at the border daily, up from the off-peak figure of 12 000.

“We have covered a lot of ground as inter-border stakeholders with our South African counterparts,” said the assistant regional immigration officer in charge of Beitbridge, Mr Notius Tarisai.

“Operations have been harmonised for the period between December 8 and January 11 next year. The whole idea is to pull in one direction with a shared vision. Basically, we are building on the success of our previous Border Efficiency and Management Systems initiative.”

In-bound vehicular traffic has started rising. As has become the norm with the Christmas period, more road accidents are, sadly, starting to occur.

The increase in road crashes is because of congestion that typically occurs around this time.  Also the mood among the people gets merrier.  Amid the excitement some drivers and road users get reckless, thus causing accidents.

Three people died and 19 others were injured when a Toyota Gaia and a kombi collided head-on along the Gweru-Zvishavane road on Sunday.

We are afraid that more of these might occur as we move into the peak travelling period from around Friday, right through the Christmas week as people travel to their homes and holiday destinations, into the first week of January as they return to their bases in urban areas and South Africa, Botswana among other neighbouring countries.

As we always do during this period, we implore road users to observe road rules and regulations for us to have zero harm this festive season.

Drivers must not drink and drive. We emphasise that alcohol impairs one’s senses. It impairs their judgment, which often results in accidents on our roads.

Drivers must only drink when they have reached their destinations. It is important for them to remember that apart from endangering their own lives and those of other road users, drinking and driving is a criminal offence for which they can be arrested, taken to court and jailed.

In addition, drivers are urged to obey stipulated maximum speed limits. The laws in our country do not allow drivers to cruise at more than 120km/hr on trunk roads no matter the state of the road or absence of other vehicles. This maximum speed limit is indeed not slow and not too fast. It is just the right speed that allows a driver to identify danger and take corrective action. Driving beyond 120km/hr is too fast that if any obstacle emerges or the vehicle malfunctions mechanically, a driver is unlikely to be able to identify it in time to take appropriate corrective action to prevent an accident.

Other slower maximum speed limits apply in certain areas, such as 60km/hr and 80km/hr. These must be respected too.

Drivers must ensure that their vehicles are roadworthy before they embark on the road.

Given that more than 90 percent of road accidents that happen locally are a result of human error, our emphasis is on the driver. Road or weather conditions may be tricky at times but a diligent driver will always adjust his driving to suit the prevailing adverse circumstances, thus limiting the frequency and gravity of crashes.

We applaud the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe (TSCZ) for, once again, conducting a road safety campaign this festive season as we report elsewhere on these pages.

With the aim of reducing deaths due to road accidents by 50 percent, the campaign, to run until January 5, 2018, is running under the theme “Save lives #SlowDown!”

TSCZ spokesperson Mr Tatenda Chinoda said the campaigns will be done countrywide at roadblocks on the country’s highways to create awareness and end the blame game.

“We have 20 campaign teams deployed nationwide and the campaigns will be done on our main highways to remind drivers of the need to be safe as they are travelling to different destinations. We are in a results-based management era and it is high time we stop blaming police or anyone for these accidents. Let us take it upon ourselves to make sure that we are safe,” said Mr Chinoda.

Campaigns such as the TSCZ one will certainly help in improving the safety of road users this festive season, other busy holidays to come and general road safety all the time.

Article Source: The Chronicle