TANZANIA has experienced a number of road crashes which are related with ongoing electoral campaigns, with road safety experts calling for extra care among motorists.
The country is on campaign rallies where politicians are using every means available to convince voters’ interests for them in the elections slated for October 28 this year. The elections will include councillorship, Member of Parliament and presidential posts.
One of ways of winning the people’s votes necessitates long journeys from a conner of the country to another on day and night, a move which leads to fatigue and distracted driving through use of communication gadgets in bid to meet slated timetables.
The ACT Wazalendo leader, Zitto Kabwe was on Tuesday involved in a car accident on his way from Kalya Ward to Lukoma in Kigoma.
According to the party’s Communication Officer, Arodia Peter, Kabwe and five other party cadres who were in his car escaped with minor injuries.
The running-mate of the main opposition party, CHADEMA, Salum Mwalimu and five others narrowly cheated death as the vehicle they were travelling in overturned.
Mr Mwalimu and four other people he was travelling with were reported to escape with injuries. “It is by the will of God that I and my companions have escaped safely from such an accident.
Thanks be to God; he that keepeth it, let him keep it, and he that keepeth it keepeth it” Twitted Ado Shaibu, the General Secretary of ACT Wazalendo Party.
He tweeted few hours after he and unidentified number of people cheated death after the car they were travelling in was involved in a grisly crash as they were travelling a 353 Km distance from Tunduru to Nanyamba constituency to back up the campaigns of their partisan candidate.
During the ruling CCM primaries, some people died and others were left injured in several accidents related in rushing to beat deadlines of meeting voters.
One of the accidents occurred in Dodoma in July this year killing the then Handeni District Administrative Secretary (DAS), Boniface Maiga and four other people sustained injuries.
Also in Mbeya region, a vehicle car owned by the Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation (TBC)’s news anchor, Enock Bwigane crashed and took the life of its driver, Godwin Bakamba.
Mr Bwigane said later that the accident occurred a few minutes after he was dropped at his destination after a long journey. For the side of public service vehicles, the situation might be even more threatening than one can imagine.
Buses and in some cases trucks are used to transport a bigger number of people to attend campaign rallies. It often happens that a driver gets a call for a lucrative deal while driving. As long as he cannot dump the passengers, he must rush lest the deal slips away.
This causes overspeeding which contributes to road accidents. Most of the fatal accidents occur due to overspeeding.
It has been identified as a key risk factor in road traffic injuries, influencing both the risk of a road crash as well as the severity of the injuries that result from crashes.
The Executive Director of the FIA Foundation, a leading global road safety philanthropy, Saul Billingsley says that Road traffic deaths and injuries are not ‘accidents’.
They are the direct consequence of system failures and political choices. “When political will is focused on ending needless road deaths, lives can be saved very quickly, but that focus must translate into long-term investment”
The head of traffic police’s public Education unit, Abel Swai, calls for drivers to be careful and prioritise their safety and that of other road users. “Some drivers are not experienced in long journeys driving.
It is imperative that they learn the difference between driving in urban areas and long journeys outside cities,” he says adding that some find themselves at a speed they cannot control, which threatens their lives.
He says drivers ought to think carefully and consider driving safely in relaxed and sober states to reach the final destination. Mr Solomon Bukambu (78) has more than 40 years of driving around Tanzania’s major cities and those in East Africa without a record of a single accident.
He advises drivers to be alert and patient when on the road and that all they have to remember is that the main aim of driving is to make it to the final destination, not ending in a crash.
“Obey to the road signs. Don’t be quick to overtake when you see brake lights are on for the car in front of you. Apply brakes in pursuit of the reasons for stopping as everyone is in a hurry and wants to go, else, you will end up in accidents,” he says.
Mzee Bukambu advises that in case of fatigue or tiredness, don’t force, just relax, give away driving and take a rest for some time until you consider yourself fit for driving.
“In case of feeling sleeping just stop at the next center, take a rest and you will be back at the steering when you are competent enough,” The Road Safety Tool Kit which provides information on causes of road crashes warns that a person kept awake for 17 hours will perform as poorly as someone with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05 per cent (the legal limit in many countries) on tests of thinking ability and hand-eye coordination.
After 24 hours without sleep, a person will perform as poorly as someone with a BAC of 0.10 per cent.
Research on the proportion of casualty crashes that are a result of fatigue has had mixed results, but often it is reported that around 20 per cent of fatal crashes are fatigue related, and that this percentage is higher for crashes involving commercial vehicles.
“Driving whilst tired can impair your driving skills, just like drink driving does. A person who drives after being awake for 17 hours has impaired driving skills comparable to a driver with a 0.05 mg/ml blood alcohol level.
A driver who hasn’t slept for 24 hours has impaired driving skills comparable to a driver with an illegally high blood alcohol concentration of 0.1 g/ml,” says Road safety Scotland alliance.