The worsening state of Zimbabwe’s roads is evident to all motorists, commuters, cyclists and pedestrians who use them. Potholes, non-working robots, missing signs and fading road paint all contribute to the decline, and Zinara and local authorities are each getting blamed. The decay of the road infrastructure seems to go hand in hand with worsening driving.
Southern Africa has among the highest road crash fatalities in the world. As Road Safe Zimbabwe Trust Director Sam Nyaude puts it, “This is heavily dependent on road user behaviour. We need to make a big push for better road use behaviour. That way we can begin to make an impact and reduce injuries and deaths caused by road crashes.”
A recent episode of the Fix Harare Podcast focussed on UN Global Road Safety Week and asked how can we make our roads safer? Initiatives like speed humps, reducing speed limits and using cameras and ICTs to encourage better driving are one approach. But as Henry Munangatire notes, we also need to look at our own behaviour: “We the drivers ourselves are to blame. Normal people are speeding, cutting you off, disrespecting the rules, talking on the cell phones – we’re all guilty. We need more accountability as drivers. We need to be driven by our own conscience to obey the rules of the road. We can’t be a country that only pays attention to rules if the police are there.”
According to Sam Nyaude, the greatest threat to road safety is distracted driving. The solution? To use the roads with more courtesy. This got us thinking – Maybe driving better is an act of defiance: Choosing to follow the road rules and drive with patience and courtesy is a way of resisting corruption and rejecting intolerance.
Action: Share your views. What have been your experiences on the roads? What are some of the reasons for bad driving, and how do we solve them? How have you been part of the problem – And how are you part of the solution? How do we encourage better driving in ourselves and others? Email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or WhatsApp your thoughts to +263 779 567 768. And if your blood pressure rises from just thinking about the state of our roads, check out the Hallelujah Chicken Run Band and other favourites on the New Frame mix tape of chicken songs to stop traffic.