TRAFFIC Safety Council of Zimbabwe (TSCZ) information and communications officer Mr Tatenda Chinoda has said penalties of unlicensed driving must be revised.
“Unlicensed driving must not attract a fine, but a custodial sentence in the event that the driver has caused the death of people. For example, in the recent case of the 26-year-old man who ran over seven pedestrians resulting in the death of three, the case must not be treated as culpable homicide but as murder.
An unlicensed 26-year-old man last month lost control of his vehicle, drove it along Jongwe Street in Mucheke D, Masvingo and ran down seven pedestrians. Three people were killed while four were injured.
For all this, the man was only charged for culpable homicide and driving without a licence.
The man was charged for culpable homicide because he did not intend to kill his three victims and injure the other four.
“The tragedy of death is not that things are broken but that dead people can’t be resurrected. To be driving on our roads without a licence is wrong. The life of a motor vehicle can be insured but the lives of human beings can never be recovered,” said Mr Chinoda.
The TSCZ has started lobbying Government to impose mandatory custodial sentences to people who drive without licences among other stiffer penalties on errant drivers.
National statistics show that 90 percent of road traffic accidents are caused by human error, and are, therefore, avoidable.
Unlicensed drivers have been blamed over and over again for contributing to the spike in road accidents.
Speaking at the official launch of the Accident Vehicle Fund consultative meeting in Karoi recently, Transport and Infrastructural Development director, Mr Allowance Sango, said motorists driving public service vehicles were either unlicensed or underage, hence the increase in road accidents.
“We’re facing challenges because we have too many ghost drivers on our roads. They don’t have the required documents including driver’s licences.
“Most of the drivers driving public transport are less than 25 years old without a minimum of five years’ experience to drive public transport. If you ask for a licence, they produce a blue one that is fake,” he said.
“What this reveals is that we have fake drivers on our roads. The only proper document they will have is a death certificate that awaits them after accidents. As passengers, we fall into the trap of ghost drivers fuelling accidents on our roads.’’
Mr Sango’s sentiments concurred with findings presented in a journal titled Traffic Injury Prevention, which sought to examine the association between unlicensed driving and car crash injury. Unlicensed drivers were said to be a high risk group for car crash injury.
A new report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicates that road traffic deaths continue to rise, with an annual 1,35 million fatalities. The WHO Global status report on road safety 2018 highlights that road traffic injuries are now the leading killer of children and young people aged five to 29 years.
“These deaths are an unacceptable price to pay for mobility,” said WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Although there are several other factors which result in road accidents, some of them are attributed to unlicensed driving and people have so often pondered on what can be done to solve this problem.
According to Mr Michael Bloomberg, Founder and CEO of Bloomberg Philanthropies and WHO Global Ambassador for non-communicable diseases and injuries, road safety is an issue that does not receive anywhere near the attention it deserves — and it really is one of our great opportunities to save lives around the world.
“We know which interventions work. Strong policies and enforcement and powerful public awareness campaigns can save millions of lives over the coming decades. There is no excuse for inaction,” said Mr Bloomberg.
He went on to highlight that road accidents are a problem with proven solutions, and called on governments and partners to take much greater action to implement the measures.