• July 9th, 2020

Road accidents: Grave, but avoidable and preventable



Early February this year I was driving from Windhoek to Okahandja. When I left Windhoek, as it was a Saturday afternoon, and the road was not that busy, there was only one sedan ahead of me. I was driving the legal speed of 120km/h. I passed the sedan ahead of me by City Sand as it slowed down – I could notice the lone occupant was rocked on his headrest. I couldn’t help but suspect he was falling asleep. Upon passing him, he accelerated almost hitting me on my rear. Luckily I noticed him on time then swerved to the yellow line to avoid him.

At the same time, I informed my fellow in the car that something is not right with the said sedan. I followed him all along, and couldn’t pass him anymore as he kept swerving from side to side all over the road. At the roadblock between Windhoek and Okahandja, he slowed down, but since there was no officer on the road, he proceeded on. I came by and alerted the two female officers on duty, they were seated chatting. They indicated I could have passed him to report earlier. I protested that I feared he may drive me off the road, at the same time suggesting they call the police from Okahandja to meet us. When I left the roadblock, I tried to flash my lights at him to stop, even hooted, but he instead indicated that I pass him, which I still refused.

Just about 4-5km from the roadblock, the driver rammed his sedan onto the rear of a broken down lorry which was parked on the yellow line. He drove through two warning triangles which were a few metres from the lorry, held by rocks, but could not hear, or before he could react, he was onto the lorry. I couldn’t do anything, but call MVA to alert the police and ambulances, which took 30 minutes to arrive. All we could do was pray that he lived to see another day, as we watched helplessly.

I first called the Klein Windhoek police station, as it was the first number I had in mind, after calling Khomas Police headquarters with no answer. The Klein Windhoek police suggested I call Katutura station as they do not apparently deal with accidents that side. This and many other accidents on our roads are avoidable and preventable. 

First, the attitude of every driver is vital in avoiding and preventing an accident. Should you as a driver notice you are falling asleep, take a rest at the side of the road, or any safe place before you continue – this I have done several times when driving long distance. Learn to have limits and do not push yourself through boundaries – if you are tired, rest, if you are offered help take it. I had two passengers in my car that day, whom all were licensed drivers. We could have driven him anywhere he would ask, just to help.
The second thing we should work on is for the police to take things seriously. No one would rejoice watching someone die or getting seriously injured on their watch. The police should do their job seriously. Many a time roadblocks are set up across the country during festive seasons, yet accident, crimes, and contraband are never detected or prevented. 

The third action that we should take is for every town entrance and roadblock to display boards that have clearly marked emergency numbers of police and ambulances. This way if one spots an accident they could call the police on arrival at the nearest town or roadblock. We should erect an emergency number board every 50km between longer distanced towns even.

Further, we should make ambulances more available. I mean if we can have tow-in services that always park by the road ready to get into action and tow car carnages after accidents, why can’t we have ambulances alike. Is the car more important than the life of a fellow human? Let there be an ambulance at the entrance of every town. 

I also suggest stationing some ambulances between long stretches like Okahandja to Otjiwarongo, and Otavi-Otjiwarongo road could do as it takes the ambulances long to get to an accident scene. I also wish to join all those who are calling that all cars be mandated to carry fire extinguishers just as reflectors, jack, and other tools, not for decoration, but that it saves life during a fire. 

The issues of tyre failure are grave to any motorist, thus it’s high time that drivers who carry passengers be trained to avoid accidents, and a training certificate becomes mandatory when receiving their licences. Those who fake fitness certificates for public transport should be dealt with as they have trends to fake them, or use other car accessories to pass a test, yet the car will operate without some basic necessity that could save lives.
 


Staff Reporter
2020-02-28 07:47:12 | 4 months ago

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