Statistics from the Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Services (DRTSS) show that 1 791 people have died in 694 fatal road accidents in the country this year.
The figure represents a rise from 1 112 people who died in 962 fatal accidents in 2016, according to DRTSS which made available the data during commemoration of Africa Road Safety Day under the theme Road Safety is Everyone’s Responsibility on Saturday.
Minister of Transport and Public Works Jappie Mhango, who presided over the commemoration activities, expressed shock with the statistics and challenged Malawians to be courteous and cautious on the roads because most accidents are avoidable.
He said: “The figures of deaths on our roads are alarming. In 2016 alone, the country recorded 1 112 deaths from 962 fatal accidents while this year, as of September, 1 791 deaths have been recorded as a result of 694 fatal accidents. Sadly, most of these accidents are in a category that we call avoidable and this implies that if care was taken by the road users, especially drivers, these accidents could have been avoided.”
The minister said statistics show that 80 percent of accidents are caused by human error and fewer accidents are caused by infrastructure challenges and weather conditions.
In his remarks, DRTSS acting director Fergus Gondwe agreed with the minister that most accidents in the country are avoidable and caused by three reasons that can be easily be dealt with.
He said drink driving tops the list followed by over-speeding and reckless driving.
However, a Nation Publications Limited (NPL) investigative story established that loopholes and corruption in the DRTSS system also contributes to the increasing accidents and deaths on the roads as unqualified people are able to get driving licences whereas unroadworthy vehicles ply the roads using counterfeit permits.
In July this year, data The Nation sourced from Malawi Police Service (MPS) showed that the number of road accidents almost tripled over the past five years, killing about 1 300 people annually.
The Day also provides a platform for the citizens of African countries to cheer the injured who are nursing their wounds either at home or in hospitals as well as to raise awareness of road safety issues. n