IN April, this year, President John Magufuli added his voice to the growing public outcry in connection with the seemingly uncontrollable road accident menace. The president wanted the Police Force to investigate and establish the root cause of the dismaying road accidents.
The president pointed an accusing finger at reckless drivers. In fact, it is on record that in the past most accidents were determined to have been caused by devil-maycare drivers who flouted road safety rules and regulations, often driving at break-neck speed.
Road accidents remain a nagging headache for the nation. In less than a week, after a nasty accident occurred in Mbeya region claiming 20 lives, five passengers died in another grim accident in the same region involving a semi-trailer and three other motor vehicles.
The National Assembly was told a few months ago that the government is in the final stages of collating new traffic rules and regulations. The reviewed Road Traffic Code, we are told, will take in a number of stiff penalties that are tailored to whip unruly drivers into seeing sense.
This will help curb road accidents, perhaps. The improved traffic rules and regulations, the lawmakers were told, will conform with international standards that have been put forward by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Road Safety experts.
The improved law will repeal the outdated Road Traffic Act of 1973. So, it is the spate of accidents that has prompted the state to consider reviewing the Road Traffic Act in a quest to make it stricter with heavier penalties on road users who flout traffic rules.
Certainly, it is the much heavier penalties that will get unruly drivers to toe the line. Road carnage is a challenging scenario. National leaders, including the president, have umpteen times exhorted drivers to exercise optimum caution when handling motor vehicles.
The leaders have often spoken bitterly about the chain of grim accidents, most of which have stemmed from the recklessness of drivers who handle motor vehicles without much regard to safety. It is, consequently, imperative to point out here that some drivers, especially those who have never had driving lessons, do not respect the Highway Code.
The Highway Code is the set of rules and pieces of advice on how to use roads. These rules are based on road traffic law and good driving practice. Unfortunately, too many drivers do not even know what is entailed in the code.
So, some drive at frightening speeds, even when travelling on the worst roads. Many of them hardly know what the roadside traffic signs require. And there are those who can hardly read or write. Some drive under the influence of alcohol.
Others behave like maniacs when handling motor vehicles. In yesteryears the Dar es Salaam Road Safety Board offered free education on traffic rules for drivers and motorcycle riders in a quest to curb accidents.
It came to light that most drivers did not even bother to acquire driving licences. A similar situation prevails today. It is a pity to state here that road accidents are now a canker that appears to defy State intervention.
Nonetheless, the rot must be stemmed.