Every driver can prevent death on Namibia’s roads this long weekend

The Motor Vehicle Accident Fund of Namibia (MVAF) urged Namibians to make road safety top priority this long weekend, as thousands of Namibians will take to the country’s roads for the long weekend and also for Heroes Day celebrations in Walvis Bay.

“In a statement released yesterday afternoon the MVAF states:
August marks an exciting time for Namibians as family and friends get together in celebration of the many festivities lined up during this month. Of prominence is the Ongwediva Annual Trade Fair and the Olufuko Cultural Festival which are taking place in the Northern part of Namibia, as well as the commemoration of Heroes Day on 26 August, which will be celebrated at Walvis Bay. These festivities also fall in the school holidays adding to the high number of road travelers.
As a result, the coming weekend will see an influx of travelers mainly towards North, West and other parts of Namibia, culminating in high traffic flow and increasing the risk of road crashes during this period. The consequence of such celebrations and gatherings are likely to result in more drivers driving under the influence of alcohol too. MVA Fund statistics recorded during Heroes Weekend of 25 August to 31 August 2015 indicate that 12 precious lives were lost in 94 crashes with resultant injuries of 193 persons.
The rising spate of road crashes across the country coupled with mass casualty crashes which predominantly took place during June 2016, steered the Minister of Transport and Works, Hon Alpheus !Naruseb to call upon all road safety partners to come up with sustainable initiatives to redress the escalating number of road crashes on Namibian roads.
In response to the Minister’s call, the MVA Fund in con-junction with law enforcement agencies including NamPol, Roads Authority, Local Authority Traffic units and other part-ners such as National Road Safety Council (NRSC) launched the ‘Opotuli’ road safety campaign on 24 June. The campaign, which is partly sponsored by the Self-Regulatory Alcohol Industry Forum (SAIF) and Private Sector Safety Forum (PSRSF), is currently in full swing and is expected to run until the end of January 2017 and will be stretched to all 14 regions across the country.
With the focus of doing random breath testing for alcohol consumption and vehicle fitness, the main aim of Opotuli is to encourage road users to change their mindset while using the roads. Even though Namibia was rated as the top African country with the best road infrastructures by the World Economic Forum in their Global Competitive Report of 2014/15, it is evident that good infrastructure alone is clearly not sufficient to save our people from succumbing on the country’s roads, and only significant behavioural change among road users can make the road safer to everyone.
Because most road crashes are the product of several factors such as speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and due to negligence or reckless driving, the probability of crashes happening can be reduced in different ways if every road user pledges to be a responsible and safe road user this long weekend.
As you plan to undertake your journey, the Fund urges all drivers to abstain from drinking and driving and to avoid all distracted driving behavior such as texting while driving, which can endanger the safety of drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.
Road safety is the responsibility of every Namibian and the success of celebrating a crash free long weekend undoubtedly depends on the commitment of all to reduce the carnage on our roads.
Additionally, road users are reminded to practice safe road user behavior by:
·Mapping out your trip and making sure that you have plenty of time to get to your destination,
·Conducting pre-trip inspections to ensure vehicle roadworthiness,
·Not drinking and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs,
·Ensuring that all passengers wear seatbelts or child restraints,
·Avoiding error of judgement when overtaking;
·Taking regular breaks at least once every two hours when driving long distance,
·Being mindful of stray animals; and
·Keeping within the speed limits;
In case of a crash, the public is encouraged to contact the MVA Fund Accident Response Number at 081 9682.”

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