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Police boss pleads for safety on roads

by Staff reporter
01 Jan 2021 at 19:50hrs | Views
THE cellphone and Information Communication Technologies ITCs have revolutionised communication, connecting people at an instant hence bringing the much needed convenience.

However, driving while using a cellphone has become one of the major distractions blamed for some road traffic accidents.

The Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe (TSCZ) is on record saying human error constitutes about 80 percent of the road accidents being recorded in the country.

Police have said drunken driving, misjudgement, fatigue and overtaking errors are the major contributors of road accidents.

In his festive season message, Police Commissioner General Godwin Matanga urged motorists to desist from using cellphones while driving as that could result in road accidents. Just like Covid-19, road traffic accidents have become a global concern.

The World Health Organisation says more than 1,3 million people die annually due to road traffic accidents while between 20 and 50 million people suffer non-fatal accidents, however, leaving some people with lifelong injuries and disabilities.

It also notes that road traffic accidents have considerable impact on socio-economic productions and what is disturbing is that most of the accidents are recorded in Africa despite the fact that the continent has the lowest vehicle population. The Zimbabwe Statistics Agency (ZimStats) 2019 statistics shows that an average of five people die due to road traffic accidents daily in Zimbabwe.

Therefore in the midst of Covid-19 pandemic, motorists, pedestrians and policymakers should not forget the seemingly impact of road accidents to humanity and economies.

A motorist Mr Mkhokheli Mpofu said it has become more frustrating driving on the country's roads where some motorists have become a danger to others due to their penchant of wanting to use cellphones while behind the wheel.

"This is a problem that is affecting most motorists. I will not lie as I have on several times found myself doing the same thing. It's as if people cannot wait to communicate. What we seem not to appreciate as motorists is that using cellphones while driving is causing a lot of distractions, some of them leading to road accidents. It's even worse these days when one has to navigate through potholed roads," said Mr Mpofu.

He said the solution to addressing the problem of drivers who want to use the cellphone while behind the wheel is for police to deploy modern technologies to detect such culprits.

Bulawayo chief fire officer Mr Jabulani Ndlovu said it was worrying that motorists who drive while using cellphones were at times obstructing drivers attending to distress calls.

"Driving while operating a cellphone has become a serious challenge on our roads. At times we are delayed unnecessarily as we attend to distress calls by these drivers who are supposed to give way but will be concentrating on their cellphones. It's as if they will not be hearing our fire engines or ambulance sirens," said Mr Ndlovu.

He said there is a need for change of behaviour among motorists who risk being involved in accidents with emergency drivers rushing to accident scenes or to attend a fire. Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) head of consumer awareness and publicity, Dr George Manyaya, speaking in his personal capacity said driving and operating a cellphone has far reaching consequences that could result in fatal accidents.

He said surveys have been conducted which show that a driver's reaction time becomes slower due to driving while operating a cellphone.

"While we must embrace ICTs as they are important for economic development, I think they should be used more responsibly because we are losing lives unnecessarily. The worst are those who attempt to send text messages while behind the wheel. There are so many distractions when you text and drive, it's very dangerous," said Dr Manyaya.

He said there is a visual distraction as the driver is forced to take the eyes off the road and once the driver receives some messages he or she focuses on the message instead of concentrating on driving and observing traffic rules and regulations. TSCZ Ambassador Sandra Ndebele-Sibindi said sensitising the public against driving while using cellphones would be her next campaign.

"Driving while using a phone diverts the driver's attention from the road because whenever you receive a call or text message while driving your focus is on the message. Motorists end up having divided attention thereby resulting in reckless driving that could cause accidents. As a TSCZ ambassador I have an obligation to educate members of the public on the dangers of driving while using a cellphone," said Mrs Ndebele-Sibindi.

Source - chronicle

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