Road accidents: A serious public health concern 

Source: Road accidents: A serious public health concern – The Standard December 22, 2019

health talk:with Dr Johannes Marisa

As we draw closer to 2020, I wish to take you through one of the most serious problems that has widespread effects on the social, physical, economic fronts of people.

Road traffic accidents claim about 1,4 million people globally. It is estimated that globally 3 700 people are killed daily in traffic accidents involving cars, buses, motorcycles, bicycles, trucks or pedestrians. More than half of those killed are pedestrians, motorcyclists and cyclists.

Zimbabwe records a significant number of road accidents with about 1 986 people recorded as having been killed in 2018, a higher number than in 2017 when 1 828 deaths were recorded. Our lives remain in danger as long as some of our habits are not changed when we are driving.

Common causes of road traffic accidents

Accidents have been attributed to a number of factors, majority of which are under one’s control. A few other causes have however been said to be beyond one’s control. The following are some common causes:

Drunk driving: In UK, it is estimated that about 14% of road traffic accidents are attributed to alcohol use. Drinking alcohol can affect your body’s responses. It slows down your brain which means you are more likely to have an accident. In short, drinking alcohol can:

lAffect our judgement and reasoning.

lSlow down our reactions.

lUpset our sense of balance and coordination.

lImpair our vision and hearing, night vision can be reduced by 25%.

lMake us lose concentration and feel drowsy.

Please note: If you feel drowsy and unable to drive, please better take a rest. Avoid euphoria to drive as death may be imminent. Give your cars to some sober drivers, do not commit suicide by driving when you are in an inebriated state.

Over speeding: Driving beyond the stipulated speed limits can be very detrimental to your life. So many lives have been lost because drivers felt they need to drive with speed. This has been aggravated by the beliefs that one has special cars that can speed without hindrance. Death is for everyone. You can leave your car behind. Those who remain will fight for it as inheritance.

Mechanical vehicle defects: A lot of lives have been lost because vehicles did not have brakes. A lot of vehicles have rammed into other vehicles because the brakes went into failure. Be wary of vehicle suspension. Ball joints, control arms, CV joints should be taken care of. Vehicles can break suspension rods in the midst of driving with serious consequences. Make sure your vehicle is serviced before embarking on long journeys.

Poor roads: Poor roads are an important cause of accidents. So many vehicles run into potholes, drenches. Some end up crashing into other cars or trees, bridges in trying to run away from the potholes. It is advisable to plug all potholes to avoid serious calamities. Zinara should work diligently and expeditiously to sort road mess.

Consequences of road accidents

The following are some of the effects of Road accidents: These are:

Financial losses: Accidents place a huge economic burden on low and middle income countries with a total loss of more than $65 billion every year which exceeds the total amount that these countries receive in development assistance. So much is used on hospital bills that cover surgery costs. Plasters, bandages, syringes, needles are all needed in large quantities. Investigations like X-rays, CT Scans, MRI all demand a lot of money.

Disabilities: A lot of people have been maimed during accidents. These injuries can happen to anybody, resulting in severe limb injuries and subsequent disability. Majority of head injuries are caused by road-traffic accidents. Victims end up losing their jobs with resultant more poverty.

Psychological effects: Some patients end up developing mental problems which include post-traumatic stress disorder. A lot of counselling may be required after accidents to pacify mental effects.

Deaths: Zimbabwe in 2018 lost close to 2 000 from road accidents. That means that so many people were left as orphans, widows, widowers because of the scourge.

lBe alert always when driving, do not be distracted by your phone

lBe aware about the consequences of accidents and therefore take the necessary precautions when driving. Remember seat belts and observing speed limits.

lAvoid alcohol when driving or when you are going to drive.

lNotice fatigue and take adequate rest. Drive without pressure.

lDo routine vehicle servicing and make sure defects on your vehicles are sorted.

lBe the right person to drive with the necessary valid drivers’ licence

lPolice should take drastic measures on unlicensed drivers, reckless and careless drivers who put the lives of many at risk.

I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2020. Our God will make us through. Let us drive with caution, let us pray always. Till we meet again next year, bye!

l Dr Johannes Marisa is a medical doctor, public health expert and educationist, who can be accessed on


  • comment-avatar

    I express sympathy to all affected. The caused are very complex and range from Drunkenness as you state, to “Being late”. There is also a growing section of the population that cannot even change a defective rear lamp, in fact some individuals cannot do anything at all (outside sex and drinking beer). The greatest improvement still not implemented idea is to make vehicles intelligent whereby the speed would be below the speed limit, this would be automatic. I feel in Zim you need to implement at least every 2 years MOT trusting. This would pick up Tyres, Brakes etc at least at that interval.