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;
- 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.