Most times when we read about road accidents, the cause is mainly attributed to human error, such as speeding, overtaking at dangerous spots, or just downright careless driving.
The broad definition of an accident speaks of an unplanned, unexpected, and undesigned (not purposefully caused) event which occurs suddenly and causes injury or loss, a decrease in value of the resources, or an increase in liabilities.
And indeed experts assign 80 per cent of causes of accidents to human error.
Latest figures showed that, in just the first half of the year, January to June, the number of road accidents was a shocking 2,424 claiming some 276 lives. That is approximately 404 each month or over 13 road accidents everyday while every six months in Dar es Salaam, at least 320 sustain road accident related injuries.
Police reports have almost consistently attributed human omission or commission to the accidents, saying some were due to speeding, wrong timing in overtaking or a defective vehicle.
Yet with a little bit of training, mentoring and strict supervision, we could bring down substantially the number of accidents on our roads.
Indeed we know of many a driver who go to the extreme to argue that accidents are so defined because they happen without one’s volition. For them however careful a driver is on the road, when fate decides so, an accident will happen.
For them, there is little that human beings can do to prevent an accident. They do have a point though.
A number of accidents are indeed beyond human control, but it is also true that better tools and designs are being developed daily to lower the rate of such accidents. But are the human beings also getting training on how to avoid accidents?
This is crucial, for the question that is often asked, but rarely answered is whether enough effort is being made to reduce accidents by comprehensively addressing the human element.
We are talking of the general daily happenings on our roads and seas, which could be prevented if awareness campaigns were mounted as well as promoting better driving.
That is why we take positive note of the initiative by the Tanzania Truck Drivers’ Association (TTDA) to slow down the deadly trend by giving drivers adequate training. We call upon all other drivers’ associations and other stakeholders to emulate the move in a bid to contribute positively to safety on our roads.
TTDA National Chairperson, Clement Masanja blamed the rapidly increasing road accidents that claim many a life each year on, in his words, ‘inadequately trained drivers’.
But more shocking was the revelation that at least 75 percent of drivers who received the training conceded that they had not attended any driving school prior to embarking on driving trucks and that this was their very first formal training on road safety.
No wonder we continue to have such a high accident rate.
It is our hope that the training will now stop there, but be sustained and reinforced with regular inspections of competence to create a cadre of skilled, caring drivers to improve safety on our roads.