Saturday Dialogue: Save your life by looking right, left, right again

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All road traffic accidents can cause serious injuries; however, pedestrians may be the group most at risk from being seriously injured if they are involved in a road traffic collision; which is why pedestrians must be given right of way by motorists.

However, the trends in Harare particularly in the areas between Chinhoyi Street and Rotten Row, pedestrians have actually become a serious danger for other road users.

The other day a man literally walked into the road as I drove along Mbuya Nehanda Street. He looked as though he was in deep thoughts when he walked straight onto the street from a busy pavement.

He was so shocked when he bumped into the car. The man apologised so much and I asked him if I could take him to a hospital, but he declined saying he was okay.

Harare’s pavements in this part of the city have been turned into mini markets forcing pedestrians to go onto the streets where they are now sharing the roads with vehicles.

So chaotic is the situation which is worsened by the unruly behaviour of kombi drivers that rev and speed through these busy areas.

There is total disregard for other road users in this part of the city and something has to be done to avert serious accidents.

When I was a child at kindergarten, road rules were part and parcel of the school curricula. I would sing a song that we were taught about road crossing and we never really experienced deaths of children from pedestrian accidents that time.

Although I may not have today’s statistics on children dying on our roads, I have learnt about a handful of children that were killed as they crossed the road to and from school since January this year.

One motorist was so angered by a jaywalker last week that he got out of his car and hit a little boy that was skipping along Josiah Tongogara Avenue.

He was so enraged because he went off the road, nearly hit into a tree as he tried avoiding the boy.
Jaywalking is an informal term commonly used to refer to illegal or reckless pedestrian crossing of a roadway.

Examples include a pedestrian crossing between intersections (outside or, in some jurisdictions, also inside a marked or unmarked zebra crossing) without yielding to drivers and starting to cross a zebra crossing at a signalised intersection without waiting for a permissive indication to be displayed.

We have allowed children to play on the roads in our residential areas and when they go to school, they continue with the practice which unfortunately has resulted in death of these young people.

I recently confronted three families along the street where I live who let their under five children play on the road endangering their lives to speeding cars cruising in that area.

This had happened after one child shot through the road as I was approaching my home.

Their mothers were as adamant as they insisted that motorists should look out for children playing on the road. But surely why can’t parents train children to play within their home confines?

These are people who have gardens that are spacious enough to accommodate their fun-loving children, but motorists now have to look out for people as they navigate through these residential roads.

This week, a nine year-old was hit by a car as he crossed the road after disembarking from a minibus in Tynwald North.

The motorist, who was fortunately driving at a safe speed, stopped and took the young boy to hospital where he underwent surgery for compound fractures on one of the legs. He is very lucky to be alive.

But are schools teaching our children about road safety? The Zimbabwe Republic Police used to offer traffic lessons during assembly at various schools in the 80s and 90s, but it would seem as though that programme was shelved.

I asked a 10-year-old boy yesterday whether he knew what to do when crossing a road and he displayed total ignorance.

Pedestrian accidents claim the lives of many minors and children, and cause a host of injuries, including brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and other serious life-long injuries.

Since children are likely to be on foot, and since they often do not show the same alertness and awareness of cars around them as adults do, they’re more likely to be in a pedestrian accident.

Because of their relatively small size and weight, they’re more likely to suffer fatal or serious injuries as a result of a collision with a motor vehicle.

Look to the right, left and right again, is a phrase that should be taught children when they are still young. It is a life-saving slogan.

I have seen adults run across the roads, instead of walking. They dart across and fall and then get hit by the traffic. And all this happens at undesignated road crossings.

And blame is squarely placed on the motorist who is blackmailed by these survivors as they demand more and more money for permanent disability.

When death occurs, all hell breaks loose as the motorist is blackmailed into meeting all the costs of the funeral and burial.

Feedback rmapimhidze@newsday.co.zw