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Road safety education and awareness, especially during the holiday season

With Christmas upon us, we are all thinking about heading out of town. To the coast, to the villages or even further afield. Almost every journey start in a car. This year, just like in previous years we lament the loss and injuries to our loved ones, friends and acquaintances as they used the roads in 2016. We Namibians don’t seem to learn, ever!

We are not stupid, yet as soon as we get onto the roads, we seem to leave our brain behind and carnage ensues. Road safety education in Namibia should be addressed at all levels, starting from an early age to achieve real and sustained behavioural change. We are talking about introducing road safety education in schools, that means every school in every one of the 14 regions. This is vital if the number of road deaths, accidents and injuries are to be decreased.

Recent MVA Fund data showed that road crashes increased by 16% from 2013 to 2014 and by 4% from 2014 to 2015. The increase in accidents translates into an increase in costs to the government and other institutions. Including; direct costs from medical and emergency services, after crash medical treatment, rehabilitation and sadly mortuary or funeral operations. However other costs in terms of workforce re-employment and re-training and poverty associated to that is unquantifiable. Just think of the social and community costs of losing a parent, child, colleague to name but a few. There are delays in transportation of goods, which often results in extra costs to be considered. The list and the impact on our everyday lives is endless.

Most accidents in Namibia occur as a result of drivers’ attitudes, behaviour, poor traffic guidance, visibility, speed, alcohol and fatigue. Of course there’s the unpredictable Namibian wildlife to contend with , ready to dart across the road when it pleases them without regard for traffic rules and laws.

The Namibia German Centre for Logistics (NGCL) and National Road Safety Council (NRSC) recently hosted a Mini Workshop Series session titled “Road Safety Education and Awareness” at the Namibia University of Science and Technology.

Some of the stakeholders who attended included representatives of the Motor Vehicle fund (MVA), National Road Safety Council (NRSC), members from the City Police, Walvis Bay Corridor Group, Southern Business School and NUST students.

Together we spoke of how and what can be tangibly done to decrease the road deaths, injuries and crashes. Education and repetition of this education is key, at all levels of society and for all road users…which is every Namibian.

Namibia must decrease the number of road accidents. One of the best ways is through road safety education and awareness. One of the topics that jumped out was educating the public with more emphasis on child education. If children are taught road safety it is something they will carry with them throughout their lives. International road safety is guided through 5 Es; Education, Enforcement, Engineering, Environment and Emergency Care.

For now we must realise as road users, the responsibility of road safety is shared amongst all Namibians and we must all work towards this common cause. Commitment is required by all relevant parties and cannot be successful if one of these areas is neglected.

Hopefully the need for road safety is something that we can all agree upon and work towards. Giving us a sense of safety and security when using the roads during this holiday season and in the coming years as well.

Wishing you safe and happy holidays and a prosperous 2017!

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