Texting while driving kills the economy

Everyone who uses his/her phone while driving is a potential contributor to this road carnage.

Approximately five people die on our roads everyday. Reflect on that for a moment.  A staggering 77% of the fatalities and injuries are of economically active people. It is estimated that road accidents cost Zimbabwe 3% of GDP. For perspective, tourism contributes 4,25% to GDP.

These are sobering statistics. These deaths of our mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers are preventable. Everyone who uses his/her phone while driving is a potential contributor to this road carnage.

According to research, high on the common causes of the accidents are distractions caused by texting, talking on the phone or eating. This is shocking behaviour. Phones have somehow turned into indispensable gadgets but have devastating consequences on driving.

But we all can do something about it. Are you prepared to be a change agent? The change begins with you and me. Stop using your phone while driving.

On a rainy Monday last week, on my way home, I was one of the first people to arrive at an accident scene where a young lady had skidded off the slippery road. She said she was trying to call her mother when it happened. I helped her alert her mother about the accident. The parents and the young lady were grateful for my small intervention. I told the young lady that the only form of gratitude I would appreciate was a promise that she would never ever use her mobile phone while driving. She agreed.

In Zimbabwe it is illegal to text or phone while driving and yet almost every driver on our roads does it. A breach of this law actually attracts a level five penalty or a fine, or both. Most of the time the police are nowhere to be seen to enforce this law and, on the rare occasions they stop a driver for this, they are quickly given a bribe and walk away. This is common police behaviour whenever they catch a motorist breaching the Highway Code.

Many motorists seem to think seat belts are optional for themselves and their children. It is not a sign of love to have children in the front seat, on your lap or standing in between seats.

Children should be in the back seat with their seat belts properly fastened.

There is a whole lot that is wrong with our country and we are all responsible through our acts of commission or omission. A big step in rebuilding our society will have to be taken from the family level. What parents tolerate in their homes, their children will take out into the world.

The young lady’s parents agreed that a strong message about not driving while on the phone was appropriate.

We need heavy penalties for road infringements and a professional police force. Unlicensed drivers and all defective vehicles must be taken off our roads.

But in all this, where are the politicians? This is a serious campaign issue that MPs should articulate and ensure is addressed. Recently we saw a commonality of purpose regarding drugs and substance abuse; the same approach should be adopted bad behaviour on the roads.


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