The last six months in Zimbabwe have perhaps been the most worrisome period to organisations such as the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe given the soaring figures of road fatalities. For about a decade or so, road traffic accidents were usually on the increase during holiday periods such as Easter, Independence, Heroes/Defense Forces and the Christmas holidays. It was during these holidays that a lot of long distance traveling by multitudes of people was recorded as they tended to mostly excuse themselves from the cities and head towards their country side homes. Road unworthy vehicles, overloading, overtaking and over speeding were often the causes of the loss of lives and injuries sustained on the road. The last half a year in Zimbabwe has seen an increase of vehicle crashing on the roads during non holidays with over speeding and overtaking by some public transport drivers being fingered as the problem.
Blame, though placed on the roads and even on the increase of vehicles actively using major roads, it has been heavily placed on the shoulders on public transport operators. Buses and the ever increasing kombi’s have been cited by public commuters as being overly competitive on the roads hence the accidents. Most eye witness and accident victim reports emerging from the most recent crash incidents have cited over speeding and overtaking by public commuter drivers as the root cause.
Questions have arisen over the reckless risks being taken. Society has fiddled with the thought of who is to bear the brunt of the blame of the crashes, the driver or the operator as they in some circles are considered responsible for their passengers. Commuters have been educated by the TSCZ and its affiliates in awareness campaigns and daily prime time viewing adverts on their power in ensuring road safety. They are urged to raise their concerns to the driver should the vehicle be undertaking any risky maneuvers. Furthermore, most mass commuter vehicles have stickers on the interior of hotline numbers of operators and road safety organizations for the passengers to make reports of any unsafe practices carried out by the driver. Statics of these reports should be made public so as show if commuters are actively taking part in improving road safety or are hardly doing so because despite the risky driving they have made it to their destination unharmed.
Laws and penalties on careless drivers and operators who are involved in the injury and loss of lives by their passengers have to be upheld if not reviewed given that some vehicles are involved in accidents regularly but still ply their usual routes without suspending operations. Some of the pertinent issues raised on radio by listeners to TSCZ officials was that some operators condoned over speeding by their drivers in order to beat their competition. It was said that these operators did not mind paying the fine when their drivers had been stopped by the police for exceeding the maximum speed limit on the road. The most critical issue raised is of grave concern has to be bus operators who when they are stopped from operating due to exposing passengers to great risk of injuries and death simply change their operating name and bus colour theme and commence operations again. Such actions will not push other operators to adhere to responsible road safety rules thereby defeating the ultimate goal of safe movement on the roads.
Nevertheless, passengers are encouraged to practice safety by not urging drivers to engage in risky driving and by not boarding vehicles exceeding the maximum number of passengers. Pedestrians should avoid moving in the lanes of the roads but on the outward designated or makeshift pedestrian path. Concentration must not be placed on the phone whilst on the roads. No song, video or text is far too important than a human life.