Must all holidays be bloody, tearful?

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Road accidents are always violent, tragic and very often fatal, heartbreaking for the loved ones that must bear the grief and debilitating for survivors that oftentimes must live completely changed lives, disabled in many instances.

Holidays in Zimbabwe, and indeed the world over, are associated with road accidents, caused mostly by human error due especially to speeding and driving under the influence of alcohol.

It seems no amount of warning by police, road authorities or eyewitness of horrific accidents can ever tame our roads, especially during holidays when excitement is high and the need to be at places earlier than possible results in the “need for speed”.

The dictionary defines accident as “an unexpected and undesirable event, a mishap unforeseen and without apparent cause”. Strictly speaking, most accidents are not accidents at all: they are collisions that could and should have been avoided.

On the eve of Independence Day, many families were plunged into mourning after five people were killed in a car crash at Hunyani River bridge along the Seke Highway in St Mary’s, Chitungwiza.

The tragedy was certainly avoidable and the five lives that needlessly perished could have been saved.

A lorry, if a 10-tonne truck without brakes or lights or a functional engine can be called such, literally plunged into the busy Seke Highway without warning.

The driver of a city-bound kombi carrying about a dozen passengers inevitably ploughed into the monster and he and four passengers died. The lorry driver and his sand-poaching crew were unscathed and, instead of assisting their victims, they fled from the scene.

Two days later in Bulawayo, another kombi killed three passengers. This time the kombi had no obstruction and, according to preliminary police investigations, the driver was speeding and failed to negotiate a curve.

The lives of these people and that of hundreds others that have perished on our roads are irreplaceable. If sanity is not restored on the roads, we can only expect more carnage and death this Easter holiday.

There are many causes of accidents and debating all of them would require acres of space, but one of the most depressing is underage and unlicensed driving.

There have been many cases where young delinquents have stolen their parents’ vehicles and ended up down some ditch or up a tree after killing them, their passengers and innocent pedestrians.

It may be difficult for parents to control their older children, but those that have cars have a responsibility to make sure their children learn to drive safely first, to control their excitement and to always drive sober.

The police and the Vehicle Inspectorate Department must also deal more firmly with reckless road users. Speed is one biggest killer on our roads and what all drivers ought to know, regardless of your many years of accident-free driving, is that the faster the speed of a vehicle, the greater the risk of an accident.

If road users abide by the simple traffic regulations, the nation will be assured of accident-free holidays.

Of course it might sound impossible to think of an accident-free holiday, but road users should strive to make this Easter holiday as bloodless as possible.

Drive cautiously and remember speed kills.