The President of the Zimbabwe Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, Dr. Abednego Chigwada said that Engineers need to come up with technology for behavior change to ensure Road Safety in Zimbabwe.
Chigwada said that the accidents which have increased this year are because of the drivers’ the behavior of drivers which could change under surveillance.
“We recently recorded 42 road accidents (during last Easter) when the police were not on roads but it does not mean there are no Engineers. Why don’t you come with a model of a camera… It means we have to do more behaviour change than looking at outdated laws,” said Chigwada.
“If you see a board saying not over 40 kilometres, an engineer has done his job he knows why that sign is there… It has to do with behaviour. Let’s ensure that we come up with technology for behaviour change.”
Chigwada speaks of behavior change as road accidents are being caused by road accidents according to Zimbabwe Traffic Safety Council (ZTSC).
While it could be agreed that surveillance could reduce Road Carnage, it might not be as complicated or as complicated as Mr. Chigwada has stated. This solution is neither new nor cutting edge as he implies. According to the Mail Online in the for example United Kingdom there at least 20 types of cameras use on British road,
“some cameras are used to catch criminals, monitor traffic, or collect data…a large number are used to issue fines which total £284million each year” they highlighted.
On the other hand in the same country as well as the United States of America, researchers has continuously debated the relationship between surveillance and crime prevalence. One such study from the Surveillance Studies Centre indicated that a report from 2005 showed camera surveillance decreased crimes such as vehicle theft from parking garages but did little to deter shoplifting or other activities in city streets and open areas. Granted these aren’t ‘Road Crimes’ but well technologically surveyed Crimes all the same. In August of 2007, municipal politicians in London UK lamented the city’s many cameras were not helping to reduce crime.
The ZTSC is on record stating 93% of Road accidents are caused by human error.
“It should be underscored that road traffic injuries are largely preventable. Accidents are caused by a number of factors including speeding, poor judgment or inattention, overtaking error, failure to give way, following to close, reversing error, obstruction on the road, tyre bursts, negligent pedestrians and cyclists, animals and fatigue. Therefore, by percentage, human error — which is preventable,” The ZTSC said in a press release.
Chigwada suggested the use of cameras to get hold of those breaking road rules.
“If you go to UK, you don’t find a police man on roads you only find hazards and signs and even here in Zimbabwe, they offer safety when constructing roads,” said Chigwada.
Considering the presence of cameras was effective in reducing crime for some, though not all, areas in first world cities, it is clear that the key isn’t in just having cameras but in how they’re used. Since deaths during Zimbabwe’s Easter holiday road accidents have gone up this year by nearly double from 22 to 42 perhaps the Technological input we need is in the form of refresher classes for Road users in conjunction with surveillance to better our chances in reformed human judgement?!
What’s your take?