5 reasons why you should observe Road Rules

One: Failing to observe road rules can kill you and other people

Road traffic accidents in Zimbabwe are the 12th biggest killer after cervical cancer (11), low birth weight (10), lung disease (9), diabetes (8), diarrheal diseases such as cholera and dysentery (7), malaria (6), tuberculosis (5), heart disease (4), flu and pneumonia (3), stroke (2) and HIV/AIDS (1).

These are the statistics on road traffic accidents from 1997 to 2013 from the Traffic Safety Council in Zimbabwe. 85% of these road accidents were caused by human error, meaning that if drivers were more careful, these accidents could have been avoided. If you are a bus driver, in particular combis, we are especially talking to you here! Every day you are responsible for the lives of many people; so please drive carefully.

YEAR                TOTAL REPORTED     PERSONS KILLED       PERSONS INJURED

1997                       43 089                                     1307                      17 906

1998                       56 433                           2152                      25 984

1999                       51 219                           1858                      23 722

2000                       40 316                           1433                      18 105

2001                       39 841                           1399                      18 153

2002                       41 753                           1871                      20 419

2003                       78 481                           3549                      37 144

2004                       37 596                           1771                      17 577

2005                       36 390                           1291                      18 531

2006                       29 250                           1037                      13 819

2007                       21 092                           1127                      10 378

2008                       16 904                           1149                      10 427

2009                       20 553                           1576                      12 354

2010                       26 841                           1796                      14 336

2011                       30 985                           2001                      15 305

2012                       30 911                           2094                      14 965

2013                       37 619                           1787                      14 131

Two: There are many careless drivers on the road and if you are not careful, you place yourself in double jeopardy

An investigation carried out by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development in the current Parliament on the causes of road carnage in 2014 revealed the following as the causes of most accidents on the roads:

  • bad state of roads;
  • speeding;
  • drunken driving;
  • fatigue (extreme tiredness);
  • driver attitude;
  • use of cell phones when driving;
  • going through red robots;
  • use of second hand tyres;
  • stationary and defective vehicles on the roads;
  • stray animals on the road;
  • overtaking and turning errors;
  • inadequate road signage and markings;
  • corruption in the issuance of driver licences; and
  • lack of traffic enforcement.

As citizens we can do something about the bad state of our roads. Local roads are the responsibility of city councils so let’s engage them until they fix the roads. Highways are ZINARA’s responsibility and lately they have pulled their socks up quite significantly to fix the roads. In holding them accountable and demanding that they fix the roads, lighting, road signage, and markings we are safeguarding our own lives. Let’s also report incidents of corruption by police officers on the roads to ensure proper enforcement of the law.

If you catch yourself doing any of the things that could cause an accident, such as speeding; drunken driving; driving while extremely tired, using a cell phone when driving; going through red robots; use of second hand tyres; overtaking or turning when you are not supposed to, remember that road rules are meant to protect you and not to make your life difficult. Your seat belt is not made only for you to wear it when you see a “Police Ahead” sign. It is meant to protect you, so wear it at all times.

Remember that no matter how careful you are, there is always someone out there who will act recklessly. Practise defensive driving (alert driving that involves being aware of your surroundings and anticipating the actions of fellow drivers on the road.)

Three: You could go to jail

 

If you hit and kill a person or injure them severely, you can go to jail. If you kill them you can be charged under Section 49 of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act (The Criminal Law Code). Culpable homicide occurs when you cause another person’s death either because you acted negligently but failed to realise that your actions/conduct could cause the other person’s death or you know that your actions/conduct could cause someone’s death.

If you are found guilty of culpable homicide; you could receive a sentence of up to life in prison or you could be asked to pay a level 14 fine. In some cases you could be asked to both pay a fine and spend time in prison. If you cause an injury you can be charged with negligently causing seriously bodily harm under Section 89 of the Criminal Law Code. You could be fined a level ten fine or receive a jail sentence of 5 years or less. In some cases you could be sentenced to both a certain period in prison and payment of a fine.

 

Four: You could lose a lot of money

 

The Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe published a list of road traffic offences and fines. These fines are governed by the Vehicle Registration & Licencing Act [Chapter12:14]. The amounts are all in USD. Check out the schedule of fines on this link.

 

 

Five: You could lose your ability to drive

If you are convicted of killing or injuring someone through a road traffic accident, the Court can suspend your license for a period that it decides. This period is not fixed. If you are convicted second time, the Court has to suspend your license for at least one year.

 

Your license can also be totally revoked/withdrawn for causing road traffic accidents. Once you lose it you can no longer drive or you risk getting into trouble with the law all the time for driving without a license.

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The Law Hub website provides legal information to give readers a general understanding of Zimbabwean Law. Its articles and social media posts do not provide legal advice and as such do not create a legal practitioner and client relationship. Examples given may not apply to all real life situations or cases. Readers are urged to consult a legal practitioner on any specific legal questions concerning a specific situation should they need legal advice.