ROAD safety stakeholders are working hard, trying to come up with a permanent solution to curb road accidents that claim many lives, leaving others with physical disabilities and trauma, and affecting the economy.
In order to control road accidents, the stakeholders are suggesting that there must be change in the way road matters are handled. Change should not only be relying on strict legal measures, but should also range from the drivers’ training, good working environment, relationship with the passengers, and above all, shaping the drivers’ attitude when they are on the road.
“The main problem is on half-baked training from our drivers who, when on the steering wheel, know nothing but speeding , monopolizing the road , overtaking recklessly which in turn end up in deadly crashes,” Said Henry Bantu the Chairman for SAFESPEED foundation.
Mr Bantu says special training to create awareness, showing the drivers that misbehaving while driving affects fellow road users, the road infrastructure and even property.
“One can see this kind of behavour from the drivers’ appearance, making unnecessary noises, disrespecting road signs and not stopping for pedestrians at zebra crossings, ” says Mr Bantu.
He counsels that apart from training, there is an urgent need for Public Service Vehicles’ drivers to have clear schedule of work plan as a way of relieving them from many hours of driving.
Making sure that their job description and contracts are clearly stipulated with related benefits like retirement benefits, holidays and attending regular training.
Minister for Home Affairs, Kangi Lugola said recently that deaths resulting from road accidents had by January this year dwindled to 31 percent comparing to the preceding period, but Mr Bantu warned that there were more role to play safe the national work force and property United Nations has released a report which shows that road crashes in Africa are increasing at the rate of almost 27 percent per 100,000 people while currently, the fatalities kills 1.25 million people worldwide, we ought to intensify efforts of combating them
It is commonly reported that post crash assessment comes with common findings of the causes of the accidents. They range from drunk driving, not fastening seat belts, high-speed in disregard of road design, signs and disrespecting other road users. Other causative are of course, reckless overtaking.
This is where the SAFESPEED foundation chairman comes with the call that it should all not be left to law forcing organs like police alone but involvement of key stakeholders.
He starts with the 5E’s which are: Engineering (road construction), Enforcement (Law enforcers), Encouragement (Sensitisation by concerned stakeholders).
Encouragement for those involved in fatalities, good education on road uses and of course Emergency preparedness all the time Bantu who is also a member of the road safety committee (RSC), goes on suggesting that the whole society must be involved in the due efforts for we all use the roads and we have no way of avoiding it.
“Children, pedestrians, cyclists, owners of the motors, media houses and journalists, drivers of all levels, policy makers, community leaders and politicians have a role to play in this matter” he suggests.
But to coordinate all those efforts and ensure this bears fruit, there is a need of forming a body mandated with coordinating and prioritizing them. Egidius Kamanyi, an assistant lecturer at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Dar es salaam (UDSM), suggests even better ways of incorporating the wider community in finding a lasting solution to road safety challenges in the country.
In the first place, he cites action which leads to crashes for the motorists and sometimes endangering innocent pedestrians including school children.
“People who fail to make the ends meet like accessing basic needs of food, clothing and shelter tends to act differently, when on road, they even make matters worse,” he says, adding that the problem doesn’t originate to an individual but the society.
According to him, people are hassling to make ends meet and to get happiness on the daily basis but when they receive different outcome.
Then they find other ways of proving their worthiness which may include reckless driving and law disobedience By considering that most accidents involve age group of 18 to 45 years old.
The university don relates it to behaviors shaped by their very upbringing and socializing institutions. Also some wants to prove their masculinity like the commercial motorcycle riders who involves in dangerous games while riding their bikes.
“Some youth are unemployed, they don’t attend socializing institutions like places of worship which shapes their behaviors, therefore, they end up into dangerous acts to show their difference” He goes on suggesting that on the way of changing road culture which is vital for combating carnage, efforts should not only end to laws, theoretical and practical education but also learning from the past mistakes.
To this, Kamanyi advises that young people need awareness programs to show them that unfriendly behaviors on the road is risky behavior. “When police stresses on the importance of using helmets, making sure the motorcycles have specific numbers, that is one way of making young people feel recognized and respected in relation to their work, the train should go inn hand with the threat measure”
He cites threats that may change the drivers’ attitudes to be including tell them the truth that once involved in accident, legs will be cut off when taken to hospital, visiting the victims of the crashes who are nursing wounds in different hospitals so that they can learn from that The sociologists also recommends of warning the community not to drive when someone feels like she/he is undergoing fatigue or frustrated.
When there is a domestic misunderstanding, people opt to using an alternative means of transport, rather than driving their own cars for fear of causing accidents.