Life too precious to be short-lived.How often do we hear of accidents that have been caused by people using mobile phones whilst driving?
Saturday Dialogue with Ropafadzo Mapimhidze
I had an encounter with one youthful kombi driver who drove onto the sidewalk of a road and nearly hit some schoolchildren that were standing by along Prince Edward Street.
There was silence in the kombi when one man decided to disembark, not before he had given this driver some thrashing.
Motorists speaking on mobile phones are a very common practice in Harare and this is evidenced by the lack of concentration of some drivers especially if you are tailing behind.
I have personally encountered such drivers and it baffles me as to why they can’t just stop and finish their conversation with the caller, instead of driving on, sometimes creating unnecessary congestion.
Last weekend, my daughter lost a friend who was hit by a motorist who was talking on his mobile phone.
The 23-year-old, who was a promising professional in the engineering field, was buried at his family homestead in Rusape.
There is nothing in this world that is more important than the life of someone and when you talk on your mobile phone while driving because, you are actually endangering other drivers and yourself.
I have also seen many motorists texting while driving and that is very dangerous.
There is a picture of a four teenagers in a mangled VW Golf that went viral on social networks who died when one of their colleagues crashed into an oncoming vehicle as she texted a message on her phone.
One of the teenagers, who survived for a few hours to tell the world what had happened, said that the driver had been texting a message telling her mom that she was on her way home.
Her journey home ended in a crash soon after she had pressed the send button on her mobile phone.
The Zimbabwe Republic Police, which has banned use of mobile phones while driving, should enforce this law seriously if we are to save lives.
The United Kingdom and most states in the United States have also banned the use of text messaging while driving and if caught, motorists could pay a heavy fine or lose their drivers’ licence for life.
The fact that it can happen to you, makes it that much scarier because denying the facts could result placing everyone at risk.
A mobile phone can be important in an emergency.
If you need to use your mobile phone to call for help, stop and park safely where you will not endanger other road users.
Driving is a very complex task, especially in Harare where the number of cars on the roads has more than quadrupled over the years, making it very difficult to manouvre especially during peak hours.
Any lapse in concentration increases the risk of the vehicle being involved in a crash.
It is a fact that driving when using a hand-held mobile phone can cause both physical and mental distraction which impairs driving performance.
Using that gadget while driving can significantly impair a driver’s reaction time, visual search patterns, ability to maintain speed and position on the road, ability to judge safe gaps in the traffic, and general awareness of other road users.
The most common types of crashes associated with mobile usage are “run-off-the-road” crashes and “rear-end” crashes.
Research has also established that learner drivers who use a mobile phone spend less time looking at the road ahead and that they are likely to wander over the road, and across traffic lanes.
They also take longer to notice driving hazards, the research says.
Traffic accidents in Zimbabwe, are no doubt one of the leading causes of death.
This week, a family of four perished in a head-on collision and died instantly.
Last year in October, another family perished on our roads. The list is endless.
We, however, never seem to get reports of accidents caused by drivers speaking on the phones, and yet this is a very common and regular feature.
Pedestrians have, however, now become the most endangered species as they get knocked down, every now and then, by drivers not fully concentrating on their driving skills.
I personally experienced this for two weeks when my little car was at the garage.
Walking to and from the kombi drop-off points was such a hazardous experience.
Motorists don’t stop at pedestrian crossings and the result is people decide to cross at other points not designated for pedestrians.
The pedestrian crossing along Jason Moyo Avenue that leads to Speke Avenue bus terminus is one example.
It is one of the busiest crossing points where authorities should consider putting up traffic lights because that particular point is just too busy. Giving way to pedestrians can lead to motorists getting impatient as droves and droves of people continue walking across.
This is where I have seen a number of motorists speaking on their phones as they wait for pedestrians to go past.
Sometimes, drivers ignore the pedestrian crossing by not giving way, sending people scurrying off the street.
A study, conducted by US News and World Report in partnership with Nationwide, shows that cellphone-related car crashes are drastically under-reported, and that as many as 1 in 4 car crashes involve cellphone distraction.
We all only have one life, and hence that life is too precious to be short-lived.