04 Dezember 2018 | Unfälle
Drive safe this holiday
Deaths and injuries caused by road accidents are devastating to both the people involved, and the national economy.
The toll of the sky high number of deaths and injuries caused by road accidents costs Namibia an estimated N$1.3 billion per annum in addition to the devastation to families and individuals.
Although Namibia has seen a notable reduction in accidents (10%), injuries (18%) and fatalities (29%) this past year, based on January to 11 November statistics released by the Motor Vehicle Accident (MV) fund this week, experts say about 96% of all crashes in Namibia are preventable.
Compared to 2017, in which a total of 3 531 crashes took place between January and 11 November, to date 3 192 accidents were recorded, in which 5 120 injuries and 471 fatalities took place.
Over the same period last year, 666 persons died and 6 263 persons were injured.
Authorities estimated that 50% of all deaths in Namibia are innocent bystanders, including passengers, cyclists, pedestrians and other road users.
Take extra care
Surihe Gaomas-Guchu of the MVA-fund cited a study which has shown that “human error accounts for 93% of crashes, either as a driver, passenger or pedestrian.”
Another two primary factors that lead to accidents are quality and design of roads and vehicle fitness.
She added that the design of roads can significantly help reduce the risk of crashes and severity of injuries during a crash.
“Currently all road users, motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, share the same space and this have an impact on the increased risk of road users. Road design and environment especially road surfaces, curbs, crests and sharp curves also contribute to a reduction in visibility.”
Horst Heimstadt of the Private Road Safety Forum adds that deaths and injuries deprive Namibia of valuable active economic contributors, with mostly people of employment age dying or sustaining injuries in crashes.
Statistics collated by the MVA-fund as from 01 January until 28 October 2018 revealed that 2891 males were injured in 3042 crashes, while 317 died in those crashes.
Comparably, women sustained 1648 injuries and 122 fatalities during the same period.
Heimstadt said although only supported by very limited research, the behaviour of motorists could also reflect broader social issues.
While not quantified by studies, he says “the number of suicides, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, violence and gender-based violence all indicate that we are a socially unwell nation. Limited research shows that this can be directly linked to poverty, poor education and a sense of fear, which creates a sense of hopelessness.”
Conversely, a study published by the World Bank earlier this year on the high toll of traffic accidents on a country’s overall development and well-being, warned that crashes are not only a transport challenge, but a “development challenge with a strong impact on health, wellbeing and economic growth”.
The authors stressed that traffic injury prevention should be regarded as a key pillar of the health agenda in any country, equal to efforts to reduce communicable diseases, maternal deaths, and nutritional diseases, and non-communicable diseases.
The authors state that the comparably little attention paid to the impact of road accidents and the benefits linked to reducing road injuries “are yet to be realised,” in many countries.
Driver behaviour that sharply increases the risk of accidents includes speeding, distractive driving such as using mobile phones, inattentiveness and non-adherence to general road rules.
To ensure arriving safely at a destination this holiday season and generally over the year, Gaomas-Guchu advises motorists to always wear a seat-belt “even if you are going to the shop or back.”
Research has shown that injuries can be reduced by 40% to 60% if a person wears a seatbelt when involved in a crash.
She stresses that motorists should always stick to road rules, including speed limits as this can also save lives and prevent injuries when involved in a crash.
As the holiday season sets in, she warns drivers that even small amounts of alcohol in the bloodstream can affect driving abilities.
Moreover, she says tiredness has the same impact alcohol has on driving ability, so being well rested before starting a journey is crucial.
Moreover all drivers should conside3r not only their own safety but that of others they share the roads with, so good driving etiquette can save the lives of not only the driver but other motorists.