Hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans are expected to take to the roadways this holiday season visiting friends, resorts or their villages in the countryside.
In fact, this year’s projected travel volume could be the highest since the consummation of the inclusive government three years ago due to the slight improvement in the economic situation in the country.
With so many people travelling to visit family, purchase last-minute gifts, and prepping for holiday gatherings, not only will the roads be filled with holiday splendour, but also with people who have more on their mind than usual.
During the past 31 years, thousands of people have perished in motor vehicle crashes in the country, including several hundreds who died this year while using public transport.
While estimates of the number of crashes, injuries, and deaths caused by distracted driving vary widely due to limitations of existing motor vehicle crash data, in other countries it is estimated one out of six fatal crashes and fatalities involved a distracted driver.
Distracted driving refers to any activity that takes a person’s mind, eyes, and/or hands off the wheel while driving, such as changing a radio station, drunken driving, talking on a cellphone, and texting while driving.
So the authorities must be able to mete out justice where applicable even if it may mean cancelling the operating licence.
We urge public transport operators to instruct drivers to desist from overloading, violating timetables, overworking drivers for profits, unroadworthy buses, failure to use the stipulated triangle signs in breakdowns and failure to stick to the fare charges as stipulated on the fare tables.
It is estimated that nearly 80% of all crashes involve some form of driver inattention. We all have the responsibility to help improve our traffic safety culture and we can do that by committing to stay 100% focused on the task of driving anytime we are behind the wheel.
For this reason, we urge the police to clamp down on unruly public transport drivers, and unregistered, unfit/unroadworthy buses.
The holiday is coming barely a week after government indicated it was withdrawing State-assisted funerals for accident victims, passing the responsibility to transport operators and those responsible for the accidents.
This should act as a wake-up call for public transporters.
In the past, government used to provide assistance to families of people who perish in road accidents.
The pronouncements by Transport secretary Pattison Mbiriri ahead of the festive season that is usually characterised by bloody accidents, was timely hence the call for drivers to concentrate and avoid unnecessary loss of life on the country’s roads.
While one is not sure whether the decision to reverse State-assisted funerals for accident victims could help reduce the accident rate on the country’s roads this holiday, one would want to believe that no one wants to lose their family member, hence they must pay attention.
They also need to avoid driving after partying as this may also endanger other road users.
If the Passenger Transport Organisation and commuter omnibus associations members are going to meet the expenses for the loss of life, they may indeed be forced to inculcate discipline among their drivers.
In addition to meeting the costs, public transport owners should also be forced to take care of the needs of the dependants of the departed.
Public transporters have obligations to meet, hence they are obliged to provide services as authorised by their route authority in terms of timetables and fare tables.