Pledge zero crashes this weekend

Authorities urge restraint

18 April 2019 | Accidents

As the long weekend looms and the risk of death and injury on national roads rises steeply, Namibian authorities are asking all motorists to pledge showing respect to fellow road users and to stick to traffic laws in an effort to save lives and prevent crashes.

Although recent months have shown a decline in crashes, and despite well-developed road networks, fatalities and injuries linked to road accidents remain one of top three causes of death in the country.

Namibia has been rated as one of the countries with the highest car crashes and road deaths globally.

In 2018, 3 562 men sustained various degrees of injuries, while 205 lost their lives, while 2 056 women were injured and 158 died on the roads as a result of crashes during the same period.

Between January and March 2019, the Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA) Fund recorded a total of 672 crashes, 1 067 injuries and 120 fatalities.

A 2018 study on the high rate of accidents in Namibia conducted by Silas Nghishihange stated some of the factors contributing to crashes are speeding, drinking and driving, non-seat belt use and lack of child restraints.

Another major issue is driver attitude and impatience.

“All road users must please be patient. We know the road is going to be congested, so be patient and allow others to also use the roads safely. We must not be in a hurry. If you are in a hurry, leave early, and drive slowly and safely,” Nampol head of operations at the Traffic Law Enforcement Division, Chief Inspector Polly Shivute Sem said yesterday.

Sem urged motorists departing on travels this weekend to ensure their vehicles, including tyres, lights, seat belts and other functions are in top-notch order before embarking on a trip, and to obey all traffic regulations.

He said it is critical that drivers avoid taking unnecessary chances such as overtaking on blind spots, or speeding and drinking and driving.

“Buckle up at all times,” he added. Sem said extra uniforms have been deployed to man road blocks to check vehicles and to keep an eagle eye on lone stretches.

“Law enforcement is ready for action. They have been deployed all over to deal with inconsiderate and reckless drivers. We are there, on the road, and will check all the vehicles. Whoever we find acting on the wrong side of the law will be dealt with accordingly.”

Sem added that apart from law enforcement and other roads authorities, motorists should also pledge to ensure road safety at all times to help keep the number of crashes, injuries and death down.

One of the main campaign goals of the Easter Public Passenger Transport Campaign 2019, launched last week, was to reach as many potential road users, passengers and drivers, at hot-spot areas such as terminals, to educate and raise awareness.

Another campaign objective is to achieve zero deaths involving public passenger transport during the campaign period, the organisers said.

As part of the campaign leading up to the long weekend, authorities deployed at least 50 people at various terminals in and around Windhoek to engage potential road users and provide passenger and driver education on safety on the roads.

Public transport associations, including the Namibian Bus and Taxi Association (Nabta) were also brought on board to help spread the message.

JANA-MARI SMITH