Time to elim­i­nate ‘hu­man er­ror’ in road ac­ci­dents

The Manica Post - - Comment & Feedback -

THE na­tion re­ceived with anger, ap­pre­hen­sion and grief news re­lat­ing to the hor­rific road ac­ci­dent that claimed the lives of 47 peo­ple — 45 adults and two chil­dren — while 70 oth­ers were in­jured, when two buses col­lided head-on at the 166-kilo­me­tre peg along the Harare-Mutare High­way on Wed­nes­day evening.

The ac­ci­dent, which is de­tailed else­where in this news­pa­per, in­volved Bolt Cut­ter and Smart Ex­press buses and oc­curred at around 5.30pm to mark yet an­other bus dis­as­ter that can eas­ily be at­trib­uted to hu­man er­ror.

Ac­cord­ing to wit­nesses, the driver of the Smart Ex­press bus was try­ing to over­take a haulage truck and en­croached into the lane of the on­com­ing Bolt Cut­ter bus, re­sult­ing in the head-on col­li­sion.

Re­gret­tably for Smart Ex­press Bus Com­pany, this was the sec­ond road ac­ci­dent in­side three months.

Yearly, scores of lives are lost on the coun­try’s roads in ac­ci­dents that ex­perts be­lieve can be avoided.

We should ur­gently come up with mea­sures to curb th­ese ac­ci­dents be­cause we have far less ve­hi­cles than some coun­tries yet we record so many ac­ci­dents and deaths on our roads.

Ac­cord­ing to the Traf­fic Safety Coun­cil of Zim­babwe, most road ac­ci­dents are a re­sult of hu­man er­ror.

Speed­ing, mis­judge­ment, over­tak­ing er­rors, fail­ure to give way, fol­low­ing too close, re­vers­ing er­rors, jay­walk­ing pedes­tri­ans or cy­clists and fa­tigue are some of the hu­man mis­takes, which can cause th­ese fa­tal­i­ties.

Hu­man er­ror alone — which is quite pre­ventable — con­trib­uted more that 90 per­cent to the cause of road traf­fic ac­ci­dents in re­cent years es­pe­cially dur­ing the fes­tive sea­son pe­riod.

The re­cent ac­ci­dent there­fore re­minds us all of the need to in­crease aware­ness cam­paigns and coach mem­bers of the pub­lic on the im­por­tance of re­spect­ing road reg­u­la­tions and us­ing road­wor­thy ve­hi­cles.

It does not need a rocket sci­en­tist to en­lighten us and make us aware that en­sur­ing that our roads are safe re­quires unity among the var­i­ous stake­hold­ers in­volved.

Ac­cord­ing to the Traf­fic Safety Coun­cil of Zim­babwe, the causes and risk fac­tors as­so­ci­ated with road traf­fic ac­ci­dents in­clude non-use of safety belts and child re­straints, driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence of al­co­hol, drugs and emo­tions, non-use of hel­mets, in­ap­pro­pri­ate and ex­ces­sive speed, night driv­ing, sheer dis­re­gard of road traf­fic rules and reg­u­la­tions, tyre bursts, neg­li­gence, fa­tigue, lack of safe in­fra­struc­ture, use of mo­bile phones, stray an­i­mals and neg­li­gent pedes­tri­ans.

It is sad that the coun­try’s roads have been turned into death traps and there seems to be no respite in the high num­ber of crashes that Zim­babwe records on its roads.

The crashes, most of which are fa­tal, in­crease each time there is a pub­lic hol­i­day.

Stud­ies done in the past have shown that the ma­jor­ity of fa­tal ac­ci­dents on Zim­bab­wean roads are blamed on hu­man er­ror on the part of road users, chief among them the ve­hi­cle driv­ers.

In fact, one Traf­fic Safety Coun­cil of­fi­cer, Mr Ta­tenda Chin­oda, once told the me­dia that the road has be­come the great­est silent killer of our time.

“It killed yes­ter­day, it’s killing to­day and it shall kill to­mor­row un­less we mount ac­cel­er­ated coun­ter­ac­tion yes­ter­day.

“What de­feats com­mon sense is that most of th­ese road crashes are as a re­sult of hu­man er­rors. Driv­ers’ er­rors are clearly the ma­jor cause of road traf­fic crashes. On aver­age, about five peo­ple die ev­ery day on our roads in Zim­babwe and 38 oth­ers are in­jured,” said Mr Chin­oda.

Sadly, eco­nom­i­cally dis­ad­van­taged fam­i­lies are hard­est hit by both di­rect med­i­cal costs and in­di­rect costs such as lost wages that re­sult from th­ese in­juries or deaths.

It is against this back­ground that we strongly urge Govern­ment and other key stake­hold­ers in com­mu­ni­ties to en­sure that post-ac­ci­dent trauma and stress do not leave an in­deli­ble mark on sur­vivors.

Given that chil­dren lose par­ents and fam­ily mem­bers who in most cases are the bread­win­ners in th­ese road mishaps, it is im­per­a­tive to give a help­ing hand to sur­vivors ei­ther in cash or kind.

Where pos­si­ble, the sur­vivors can also do with some emo­tional and psy­cho­log­i­cal sup­port.

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