IN 48 hours time, we join the rest of the World in commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ as we celebrate Christmas Day. However, as we have seen over the years some of us wittingly or unwittingly also choose to turn what should be a time to celebrate with families and friends into a time of anxiety and mourning through reckless behaviour on the roads. Already as we report elsewhere in this issue, road traffic accidents had claimed 31 lives countrywide as at 9am yesterday since the start of the festive season on December 15 this year.
Police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi yesterday said the 31 fatalities arose from 515 accidents, a 9 percent increase over last year’s tally that stood at 470 accidents with the same fatalities.
And unless drivers exercise caution on the roads, more lives are bound to be lost.
With the rains falling countrywide, the importance of exercising caution on the roads cannot be over-emphasised for both motorists and pedestrians.
In such inclement weather, conditions on the road call for restraint and caution as the road surface will be slippery with visibility limited in some places.
While the responsibility for our own safety, if we are fortunate enough to own our own vehicles, lies in our hands, we should not forget that we share the road with others and the safety of all other road users begins with us.
Worse still we may have passengers who would have entrusted their lives in our hands.
The same goes for public transport operators, the roads are likely to be teeming with travellers and the temptation will be to carry as many of them as possible, either through overloading or maximising trips by speeding.
We should remember that all these vices contribute to accidents, and that 25 percent of all road traffic accidents result from speeding. While the cars we have today boast of various security features and gadgets, we must never forget that it is not the car that is safe but the man or woman behind the wheel.
And the safety of the driver lies in his/her attitude.
A change in driving attitude is the responsibility of every driver; we must all take ownership in preventing accidents.
We take this opportunity to remind all drivers of a few basic safety tips we all learnt at driving school:
Stick to the speed limit, do not tailgate, be alert to changing conditions, and if you feel fatigued, take a break.
Most importantly, it is said if you drink like a fish do not drive, find a river and swim home.
We urge the police and other traffic safety officers to have zero-tolerance to traffic offenders, defective vehicles should be impounded, drunk drivers locked up and errant ones sufficiently censured for they would be a danger not only unto themselves, but all other road users.
This Christmas holiday let’s drive to arrive alive.