Apart from human error, research shows that poor state of roads and vehicle mechanical faults are among the leading causes of road traffic accidents.
While drivers may cause accidents due to momentary lapse of good judgment, a high percentage of road traffic accidents in Zambia are as a result of preventable human errors. Such include poor eye sight, inexperience, lack of concentration, over excitement, over speeding, drunk driving among many others. Mechanical faults in vehicles are also a huge contributor to road accidents. Faults can occur by unforeseen tyre bursts, breaks failure, locked steering wheel and other failures that prevent absolute vehicle performance.
Well informed drivers and fit vehicles will highly reduce the percentage of road carnage cases on Zambian roads. Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) have a huge responsibility in ensuring that transport companies and all other road users comply with road rules and safety measures. RTSA needs to be keen in identifying un-roadworthy vehicles and taking affirmative action against their owners. Un-roadworthy vehicles present unforeseen danger to passengers and pedestrians if allowed to operate. This is because they easily breakdown during transportation therefore causing accidents which are often fatal.
The 2002 Road Traffic Act No. 11 dictates that it is an offense for any driver to operate on public roads without a valid Fitness Certificate. As such, vehicles operating on public roads in Zambia are subject to a roadworthiness test. This test is aimed at establishing technical and mechanical suitability of a vehicle to be operated on the public roads. The test should be carried out quarterly for every public service vehicle transporting goods and/or people, labor machinery and motor cultivators. Others like private vehicles and trailers should be tested at least once annually. Vehicles which are over five years old should be tested for roadworthiness annually.
RTSA is in charge of conducting the tests and certifying satisfactory vehicles. A fine of K300.00 is applied for those who do not comply with the rule and those lacking a Certificate of Fitness. Stickers indicating the test are placed on windscreens of trailers and motor vehicles. They display the validity of one year with an expiry date. The test involves checking tyres, braking system, lights, fire safety & equipment, steering, exhaust system, chassis & structure and carbon emissions test. First aid kit, protective gloves and warning triangles (2) should also be checked.
Upon failing the test vehicles are allowed to be repaired within a period of one month after which a retest with reduced fee is carried out. If the vehicle is not repaired and presented for a retest within one month, then it is subjected to the full initial test. Roadworthiness test costs K48.80 for all vehicles regardless of the vehicle make or size. RTSA Call Centers are accessed on 983 on all networks.