“Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make our roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties”.
Lusaka, 13th May 2014. ZAMBIAN ROAD SAFETY TRUST, the newly officially launched National non-profit, non-partisan organisation for road safety, is calling for policy makers and the media in Zambia to stop using the word ‘accident’ when referring to road crashes, and to adopt an appropriate, constructive and accurate terminology such as crash or collision. Research has demonstrated that 90% of crashes in Zambia are caused by human error and therefore could have been avoided. This challenges the notion that most crashes are ‘accidents’ that were unavoidable.
‘Crash’ does not presume innocence or guilt. If no‐one was at fault in a collision, this should be proved. ‘Accident’ suggests something unintentional, and most collisions certainly are not premeditated. But it also suggests something that was beyond control. Use of the term ‘accident’ is inappropriate until all the facts of the case are known.
Alternative words like crash or collision do not presume guilt or culpability. They avoid any value judgement and can apply equally to collisions caused by animals running out on the road, a drink driver speeding, or a staged collision, the so called ‘crash for cash’.
‘Crash’ does not excuse law breaking and risk taking ‘Accident’ is even less appropriate for an event which results in a conviction, especially those involving custodial sentences.
Dangerous driving convictions require that the standard of driving was far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver, such as over speeding, deliberate disregard of traffic lights or using a vehicle with a dangerous defect. In these circumstances, while collisions may not be intentional, calling them accidents is clearly inappropriate.
“In Zambia, ninety percent of our road crashes are related to bad driving behaviour — driving recklessly and speeding under the influence of alcohol, changing lanes without signalling and passing through red lights” says Mr Daniel Mwamba, Chairman for Zambian Road Safety Trust.
The concept of “accident” works against bringing all the appropriate resources to bear on the enormous problem of road collisions. Continuous use of “accident” fosters the idea that the resulting injuries are an unavoidable part of life.
“Road danger is not just statistics, it causes a great deal of suffering for the people who have lost a loved one or who are permanently disabled. Road danger has a big impact in our lives,” Mr. Mwamba pointed out.
If you care, use crash.
According to him, the second step is to tell people that the challenge of road safety can be overcome, that the danger on the road is a man-made crisis which can be solved.
“The sure step is to discuss how we can solve the problem and to implement adequate measures,” Mr. Mwamba explained.
“Here comes the important and indispensable role of media in our fight against road crashes. The objective is to bring and to keep road safety on the centre stage and the first step is to raise awareness, to make people see that there’s a huge challenge to solve. Many people do not know the extent of the disaster which takes place on our roads every day,” he said.
He added that the media can help spread awareness by running specific messages about speeding, drinking and driving, seatbelts and traffic distractions, and through broadcasting and hosting programmes and talk shows with experts to speak on the issue of road safety.
“This way we are building a kind of road safety culture in the Zambian society,” said Mr. Mwamba.
“The important tool is to reach out to their hearts and in their lifestyle and inform young people through the use of social media such as facebook and twitter. For young people, traffic is killer number one,” he stated.
Mr. Mwamba has called on the media to partner with the Zambian Road Safety Trust, the Government, the Zambia Police, government agencies and international organisations in communicating the message of road safety. /END
1. The Zambian Road Safety Trust (ZRST) approach on road safety in Zambia is based on international approved best practice approaches. The Trust was officially launched on 26th April 2014 at the Freedom Statue, New Government Complex, Lusaka . The Guest of honour was Hon. Yamfwa Mukanga, MP, Minister of Transport, Works, Supply & Communication. Other speakers at the launch included Ms. Stella Libongani, Inspector General of the Police and His Worship Mr. Tembo, the Deputy Mayor of Lusaka.
2. Zambia, with almost 2000 fatalities in road crashes per year, is one of the worst performing countries, as far as road safety is concerned. The recent unprecedented high levels and rates of motorization in Zambia has lead to rapidly escalating road traffic injuries, often resulting in premature death and disability. Zambia has less than 0.02% of the world’s registered vehicles, but almost 14 times the proportion of fatalities from road traffic crashes. These injuries occur predominantly to vulnerable road users and economically active males.
3. Global Figures
– 1.3 million road deaths occur every year
– More than 50 million people are seriously injured every year
– There are 3,500 deaths a day or 150 every hour, and nearly three people get killed on the
road every minute
– The number of traffic fatalities will rise by 67 percent over the period of 2000-2020, 68 percent in the Middle East and North African region and 144 percent in Southeast Asia
– Middle and low-income countries to see an increase in traffic deaths of 83 percent by 2020
– Europe and other high-income countries to decrease traffic deaths by 27 percent over the
– The UN goal is to halve the number of road victims by 2020
– $3 trillion (USD) is the cost of road crashes every year
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