wadzanai 2011.jpgBy Wadzanai Mhombera

The festive season is upon us. Many of us will be travelling to various destinations of choice.

Zimbabweans will be crisscrossing the length and breath of this beautiful country. Some will be driving themselves and their families, others will be using public transport, some will make use of rail and the most fortunate ones will fasten their seatbelts.

Safety first, gentlemen and ladies. We are all familiar with the adage ‘better to be late than to be the late’. It would be prudent to exercise extreme caution on the roads, you drivers. This is the only way to ensure accident-free holidays. Yes, we can’t rule out the occurrence of accidents, but at least we can minimize them.

It seems there are spirits which rise up during holidays of this nature, spirits which want human life, and spirits which want human blood. At this point an appeal to Christians would be most appropriate. Christians please offer prayers for Zimbabwe as it gets into festive season mood, so that our roads could be safe.

My appeal also goes particularly to public transport drivers and their assistants. I know there is a tendency on their part to get excited when they see many travellers on the roads. They are tempted to over speed so as to do many trips and maximize on daily takings. Human life is much more precious than those targets which you might want to reach or achieve.

 

Drivers must exercise defensive driving, forget about the ‘I have the right of way’ attitude. You can cause an accident because you have the right of way.

When a driver is tired or feeling sleepy, travellers please let him or her rest a little bit to ensure your safety. When the driver is over-speeding by all means tell that driver to slow down. If you keep quiet you will make headlines the following day having died or got injured in an accident. There are those passengers who after drinking a few beers would want to urge the driver to speed. This is very dangerous- you will be putting your life and that of others in danger if you do that. Let the driver drive at a safe speed and as they say, it’s better late than never.

Unroadworthy vehicles are another cause for concern during the holidays. Let’s ensure that our vehicles are in good shape, take them for servicing, and repair all the defects before embarking on a journey so as to arrive safely. We have had accidents that have been attributed to vehicle defects in the past.

 

accident 02-01-11.jpgPolice are also urged to be very strict on the roads this festive season in terms of applying the rules and regulations on the nation’s roads. Vehicles without proper documents should be impounded; drivers without proper documentation must not be allowed to drive the public at all. In fact, they must be arrested. The owners of unroadworthy public transport vehicles must be taken to task.

All stake holders, including the travelling public, vehicle owners, drivers, the government, the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe, the Vehicle Inspection Department, and the Zimbabwe Republic Police, must come together and work closely to ensure accidents are reduced during the festive season.

 

It’s always sad when you hear accident statistics after public holidays are over. In some cases, an entire family is wiped out in an accident while going to various destinations during such holidays. During last season’s festive period, 38 people were killed in 28 accidents. 515 accidents were recorded during that period. 159 people were arrested for drunken driving while 2 336 vehicles were impounded.

Already schools have closed and travelling has started with some going to their rural homes while others are travelling to various places where they will enjoy their festive season. The festive season is always the time for most families to catch up on each other and do ‘get togethers’, but if no due care is taken on the roads, some families will end up having dark holidays where they are forced to conduct funerals and burial of relatives who would have died on the roads. Am sure many families do remember the relative they laid to rest on Christmas or New Year’s Day after passing on through a road accident.

Let’s reduce last year’s statistics on festive season accidents by exercising caution on the roads. Concerted efforts will be crucial from all concerned stake holders. Let us not get over-excited and lets us stop drinking and driving at the same time. Others first drink and then get on the steering wheel and others drive while the ‘brown bottle’ is between their legs. One can’t see properly when they are drunk and this is likely to cause an accident.

Many accidents in Zimbabwe are attributed to reckless driving and driving under alcohol influence is definitely reckless! Human error is always at play in most accidents and this therefore means each and every Zimbabwean has a role to play in curbing road carnage.

 

Vigilant traffic police officers will be crucial in this endeavour. If any party concerned accepts or offers bribes, then the battle on the roads will be difficult to overcome.

Gospel music maestro, Pastor Charles Charamba, composed a sing entitled: “Musatyaire makadhakwa” {do not drive while drunk} in his album ‘New Testament In Song’. He goes on to say its better not to travel or to be late than to attempt to go and then die on the way. The musician says if you are not mentally stable or you have something troubling you, you should not drive because you will not be able to concentrate on the road. Drivers are also urged to listen to passengers when they tell them to reduce speed.

 

Many times we have heard accident survivors testifying that they tried to advise the driver to reduce speed but he did not listen. Mr Driver, suppose you survive an accident, do you want such a testimony to haunt you for life?

Perhaps one might want to listen to the Pastor’s song (wise counsel) and take heed. Do you want an accident-free festive season, it begins with you!


Disclaimer:

The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent those of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.