Statistics indicate that road traffic accidents are the third highest cause of death in Zambia. This is after Malaria and HIV/AIDS. Over 1000 lives are claimed through road accidents in Zambia annually. They are also the second highest leading cause of death for people in the 5-20 years age gap.
The alarming high numbers are despite continued government efforts in safety awareness, preventive and road safety measures campaigns. Participation of private sectors and other public road users in practicing road safety measures is crucial. Transport service providers need to appreciate the implications of road traffic accidents. Accidents not only cause loss of life but also financial, reputational, social and legal problems to parties involved.
The Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) needs to strategize on policies that compel road users and public transport service providers to follow set safety regulations. Public transport service providers should also allow their driver employees time to have enough rest. Fatigue is one of the major causes of road accidents. On long journeys, the company should provide at least three drivers who will take turns in driving.
RTSA should also map out hazardous routes to caution drivers to be extra careful when driving along such roads. As such, public transport companies should provide the RTSA with their transport routes. The routes should also have service deports in case of vehicle breakdown and other emergencies. Similarly, transport vehicles should regularly be inspected before journeys. RTSA officers situated on various checkpoints to check public service vehicles will also prompt road users to follow the rules.
Research indicates that the leading causes of vehicle accidents are negligence of traffic rules, vehicle mechanical faults, and fatigued drivers. Fatigue causes a distraction in focus on the road leading to accidents. Other significant disturbances are caused by eating food and use of mobile phones while driving. RTSA officers should be vigilant to identify such drivers who break traffic rules. The public also needs to cooperate by reporting such incidences.
Drivers should report mechanical failures and get the vehicles fixed before using them on the road. Similarly, transport companies need to carry out regular training of their driver employees. Training on road safety measures and their importance will ensure that drivers take caution when driving passengers.
All the stakeholders involved must cooperate to reduce total road carnage as the task cannot be done by RTSA alone. This means that the public road users, police and transport service providers should work together. Accident management systems such as surveillance systems should also be installed on roads. While focusing on road users who continuously break traffic rules, other users with a momentary lapse of care or judgment should not be left out. As such, continuous education and assessment on road safety measure should be carried out.