I may save a life or two. How many of us are scared of embarking on a journey as road trips keep frightening us day by day? How many of us are directly and indirectly affected by these ever-rising road accidents? How many of us take personal initiatives to reduce the death toll on the roads? How many of us have assessed ourselves and accepted that ‘yes’ my driving put my fellow road-users at risk? Most people will answer the above questions feeble-mindedly by simply saying I did or I didn’t, not really taking quality time to think of their responses.
If we look closely at the zones into which most, if not all accidents happened, they are often blind spots: no-overtaking zones, curved roads, up/down slopes or speed-limited zones due to poor road clearance. This implies that one of the drivers ignored such warnings and ultimately caused the crash. Constantly we drive along reckless drivers but we don’t report such ill-discipline either at roadblocks or call the police toll-free number. Some vehicles clearly display stickers with numbers to call if such driver’s attitude offends us. All we do is read the writings and drive on. You can be driving 120km/h or even more and you will see a fully-packed passenger minibus passing you and you won’t say a word to the police or at the next roadblock. Next you see or hear is that the very same bus is involved in an accident.
This is the only time you ‘word’ out that the driver’s attitude showed when he passed you earlier. Did you help to prevent what you are witnessing now? We also don’t speak out when the person driving us is taking chances with our lives.
The key element to road crashes is attributed to our attitudes as drivers. 1. We tend to think our cars are the speed beast, thus always want to be in front of all the vehicles. 2. We can be tired but won’t nap even for half an hour. 3. We fail to carry out all the mechanical check-ups on our vehicles before embarking on a journey. 4. We don’t plan our trips to check out for travel-risk hours and safe/less congested hours. 5. We are forever chasing time instead of saving our lives and that of the people we are carrying. 6. We ignore the road safety tips, such as not speaking on the phone while driving, drinking before/while driving, not keeping safe-following distance, not indicating your intentions to other drivers and road users, ‘jumping’ traffic lights and most importantly, impatience.
The Namibian government tried to introduce several safety campaigns such as road safety education, mobile roadblocks, mending and extension of some roads, raising traffic fines and speed cameras. The big question remains, are these campaigns really effective or they are just some individuals’ self-enrichment techniques? Unconfirmed information that I have is that the yellow speed cameras set up alongside the B1 road are not operating up to now. It’s apparent that a certain operating software is pending to date. This is an indication of poor planning from our big offices.
1. The Works and Transport, Education, Safety and Security and Information and Communication Ministries need to join hands and come up with some amicable solutions to this problem.
2. The law enforcement agents need to be well remunerated to prevent them from taking bribes from the self-proclaimed untouchable traffic laws offenders.
3. There is a need for stationary police checkpoints between Otjiwarongo and Okahandja and another between Omuthiya and Ondangwa.
4. The work and transport ministry should invest more on rail transport. The public need to be encouraged to make use of the train, but this will only materialize if the trains are well-managed and serviced.
The above, are my personal analysis of the road accidents and this doesn’t make me a perfect driver.
May the innocent lives lost on Namibian roads rest in eternal peace
Aaron E. Shaanika