Sober and slow

It is frightening to learn that hundreds of drivers take to the roads without licences. To call the situation appalling would be an overstatement. By right, therefore, we must call attention to the dangers of such unhealthy practices on our roads.

Between July 2015 and June 2016, 86 people died due to motor vehicle accidents. According to RSTA records for the month of January, close to 500 road users were found driving without a licence and other necessary vehicle documents. At the same time, 107 road users were fined for drink driving.

Major causes of accidents and road deaths in the country are speed, alcohol and not wearing of seatbelts. But this gives us no reason to neglect other contributing factors. Some drivers are so inconsiderate that they actually text, let alone talk on their mobile phone, while driving. Inspectors found 105 drivers using a mobile phone while driving last month.

There is a need to employ more sensible and practical measures to improve road user behaviour in the country. We call for more safety measures and enforcement of drink driving laws; there is a need to clampdown on road users who do not wear seatbelts. If inconsiderate motorists remain oblivious of the dangers to themselves and others due to their carelessness, it may be that penalties represent an insufficient deterrent.

What about mandatory testing of vehicles, for instance? Hand-free are available and should be made mandatory. And, among other things, regular and stricter testing of drivers could greatly help reduce accidents and road deaths. It is time we did not ignore any measure that will help make our roads safer.

Making our roads safe will be a difficult task if we leave it entirely to the police and RSTA. There is a need for multi-sectoral cooperation. We need to have a collective roadmap that includes improving road and vehicle safety, enhancing emergency services, and building up road safety management. We need to scale up well-defined and workable measures together to reduce preventable deaths.

Increased and improved legislation and enforcement on using helmets, seat belts and child restraints, and avoiding drink driving and speeding will go a long way in reducing pointless death on our roads.

Above all, we must slow down a bit.

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