Police have recorded a cumulative 62 road accidents during the 2019/20 festive season from 49 registered the same period in 2018/19, representing a 27 percent increase.
This is despite joint traffic law enforcement and road safety awareness campaigns by the Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Services (DRTSS) and police which started on December 20 and are scheduled to end on January 5, aimed at reducing road accidents.
National Police deputy spokesperson Thomeck Nyaude in an interview yesterday said 48 road accidents occurred on January 1 2020, in which three people died and 26 were injured. Between December 24 and 26 2019, police recorded 14 accidents, which claimed eight lives.
Although the number of road accidents increased this festive season, there was a 50 percent reduction in the number of deaths, at 11 compared to 22 during the same period last year.
DRTSS director Fergus Gondwe in a separate interview yesterday attributed the increase in road accidents to failure by motorists to adhere to traffic rules and regulations such as observing speed limits and careless overtaking.
He also commended the police for improved record management.
Said Gondwe: “The increase in total road accidents is owed to good reporting by traffic police. Previously, some of these minor and damage-only accidents were not being reported. But after several seminars that we have been conducting in the past year, we agreed to improve on our accident reporting; hence, the data you see.”
He appealed to road users to adhere to road traffic regulations to save lives and property that may be affected by road traffic accidents.
But while DRTSS blames human error for the accidents, a Nation Publications Limited (NPL) investigation in 2017 established that loopholes and corruption at the traffic directorate also worsen the situation.
The investigation established that unqualified people are able to get driver’s licenses while unroadworthy vehicles ply the country’s roads using counterfeit permits or certificates of fitness dubiously issued for vehicles not examined.
In July 2018, data The Nation sourced from police showed that the number of road traffic accidents almost tripled over the past five years, killing about 1 300 people annually.
Globally, road accidents kill 1.25 million people and injure 50 million annually.