The upsurge in fatal road accidents countrywide worries the police as lives continue to be lost daily due to the scourge. Most of the accidents occur as a result of driver’s bad attitudes, as demonstrated by the statistics made available by the Botswana Police Service (BPS).
In 2016, 450 deaths were recorded and from the figure, 268 or 59.5% were young people. This pattern is similar to 2017, as 444 people died on the roads with 247 (or 55.6%) being the youth.
Statistics show that from January to date, 342 fatalities have been recorded with 181 recorded as being the youth.
A number of factors have been identified with over speeding being the most prominent. It is documented that when buying a vehicle one looks at the car to be associated with looking at its speed. However, most of the youth consider going for smaller and compact vehicles with high speed.
Sadly, the local roads have not been designed for such automobiles, as there are no free ways.
This is made worse by the livestock that roam the streets while most road surfaces have potholes, another great danger to drivers. Addressing the youth during the launch of the Youth Drivers Outreach Programme at Boipuso Hall recently, the police commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe said road traffic accidents remain a serious concern in Botswana as more lives continue to be lost.
“Driving under the influence of alcohol is not cool and you know that because that is a recipe for disaster. Another factor is not putting on seat belt something that expose both the driver and passengers at risk if an accident can occur,” he said when addressing the young drivers.
“Driver distractions by use of cell phones whilst driving and fatigue is another concern.” Makgophe stated that road accidents are not only a public health problem, but also present socio-economic challenges on the part of victims, their families and the national economy.
He said with the country depending on young people as future leaders, the increasing rate at which they lose their lives to road traffic accidents is bound to negatively affect the future aspirations and economic development as a nation.
He said it is against this backdrop that the BPS has decided to embark on the road safety outreach programme targeting young drivers. The programme entails educational activities coupled with intense law enforcement aimed at saving the youth population.
A few months ago the director of traffic, senior assistant commissioner Katlholo Mosimanegape said they introduced Target 20000 campaign amongst young drivers as they were identified as the most affected group.
He said the campaign is meant to sensitise the youth on issues of safer roads with efforts to curb the escalating road deaths. Mosimanegape pointed out that road deaths are of concern especially along the A1 Road hence carrying out this national road safety on weekends, month ends and during public holidays targeting road users, focussing on the youth.
“Our wish is to see people taking road deaths seriously and playing a vital role towards its eradication,” he said.
Mosimanegape said it is time road deaths were taken seriously like in the era where HIV/AIDS was killing people in great numbers. He called for every organisation to take it as their responsibility to sensetise workers on this pandemic through road safety programmes.