Statutory Instrument 118 of 2023 and Road Safety

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A speed limit is the limit of speed allowed by law for road vehicles. Speed limits are commonly set by the legislative bodies of national or local governments. Speed increases are correlated with both the risk of crashes and the severity of consequences. Higher speeds increase the likelihood of a crash and the severity of any injuries and or property damages that may result from one. This is because, as speed increases, so does the distance travelled during the driver’s reaction time and the distance needed to stop.

 

Loss of control due to speeding is a particular problem for heavy vehicles given their greater mass and instability. This is a matter of Newtonian physics where it is known that the kinetic energy dissipated in a crash increases with vehicle mass and the square of collision speed. Lowering vehicle speed therefore not only reduces the risk for crash involvement, but also dramatically affects the risk for serious injury or fatality in the event of a crash. As average traffic speed increases so does the likelihood of a crash. If a crash does happen, the risk of death and serious injury is greater at higher speeds, especially for pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. Road safety experts and practitioners have noted that in Zimbabwe ninety-two percent of the established causes of road traffic crashes are due to human error.

 

The identification of effective strategies for the prevention of road traffic injuries is of both global and national public health importance. Measures aimed at reducing traffic speed are considered essential to preventing road injuries; the use of speed limiting and monitoring devices is one such measure. Against this backdrop, the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development, working with TSCZ, hosted the National Road Safety Indaba in January 2023. One of the major resolutions of the Indaba was the proposal to regulate all Public Service Vehicles (PSVs) speed to a maximum of 100km/hr.  Transport stakeholders agreed on the need to have PSVs fitted with speed monitors and speed limiters so that they do not exceed the prescribed speed limit. This is one of the most effective ways of improving road safety in our country. In fact, road safety experts argue that an average reduction in vehicular speed by 10% can result in nearly 37% reduction in road traffic crashes and injuries.

 

According to Statutory Instrument 118 of 2023, every PSV shall be fitted with a speed limiting device so that such vehicles will not exceed 100km/hr. This will go a long way in ensuring that speeding by drivers is avoided, thereby saving lives. It is important to note that compliance to SI 118 of 2023 is compulsory. In this regard, traffic enforcement is an essential component of speed management. Therefore, as expected, the Vehicle Inspection Department (VID) and the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) will play a pivotal role in ensuring compliance to SI 118 of 2023. If, all education and engineering related elements are in place, and speeding still occurs, there is need for discipline with the objective to prevent similar behaviour in the future. Compliance enforcement is a corrective method applied after a registered violation by punishing the violating driver or vehicle owner. Furthermore, to boost compliance levels, our parent ministry, the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development will no longer licence PSVs to operate if they do not have speed limiting and monitoring devices. It is thus important to note that traffic enforcement works best when the “subjective chance of apprehension”, that is, the collective feeling of both general and subjective deterrence, is maximised. This is the case when the driving public has the perception that they can be fined for speeding and other violations on any road, at any location and at any time of the day, manually by police officers, and will thus comply with the traffic laws and regulations. This subjective feeling is boosted by several factors: for example, road safety campaigns by TSCZ, and visible enforcement actions by the police. All this only works if the fines are felt as a severe enough punishment. In fact, according to Section 5 of SI 118 of 2023, owners, operators, and drivers who do not comply will be liable to a fine not exceeding level 5, or to a period of imprisonment not exceeding 6 months or both fine and imprisonment.

 

SI 118 of 2023 was largely necessitated by the fact that a number of people have lost their precious lives while others injured in fatal road traffic crashes involving mostly buses, especially during the past few months. The major reason for implementing SI 118 of 2023 is to protect all road users. It is important to note that over the years, Government has rehabilitated major highways country-wide. Unfortunately, an unintended consequence of this noble exercise has been excessive speeding by drivers on the well rehabilitated roads. Therefore, speed regulation, which is in line with the recommendations of the United Nations Performance Review for Zimbabwe; is an essential strategy in improving our country’s road safety performance and saving lives.

 

While motorization has enhanced the lives of many individuals and societies, the benefits have, however, come at an exorbitant price. Although the number of lives lost in road crashes in developed countries indicates a general downward trend in recent decades, for most of the world’s population, the burden of road traffic injury in terms of societal and economic costs is still rising substantially. The most unfortunate part is that some motorists do not respect the road signs if some control and monitoring measures are not taken. Through these campaigns, TSCZ encourages all motorists to comply with SI 118 of 2023, which seeks to improve road safety outcomes in the country.

 

Inserted by The Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe 

Readers can contact TSCZ on the following email: research@trafficsafety.co.zw

The Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe emerged from the Zimbabwe Traffic Safety Board which originated from a voluntary organisation composed of area associations in Harare (then Salisbury), Bulawayo, Gweru (then Gwelo) and Mutare (then Umtali).

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