1,275 perish in road accidents
Some 1,275 people died while 921 were seriously injured in road accidents alone in 2018, according to Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Services (DRTSS) statistics.
DRTSS released the statistics during the Africa Road Safety Day commemorations which took place in Mulanje District over the weekend under the theme: ‘Motorcycle riders, be safe: get licensed and follow traffic rules’.
DRTSS Director, Francia Gondwe, said the department chose the theme after noting that motorcycle riders are involved in most of the road accidents.
“These road crashes have caused deaths and serious injuries along the way. Between January and June 2019, Malawi registered 68 fatal crashes involving motorcyclists, with 40 motor cycle riders losing their lives and 44 riders getting severely injured,” he said.
Gondwe said his department was doing all it can to reduce road traffic accidents by buying motor cycles for surveillance and enforcement of traffic regulations.
Minister of Transport, Ralph Jooma, has since described the figures as worrisome saying the accidents are taking their toll on the country’s economy.
“The figures for deaths on our roads are shocking and alarming. In 2018, the country recorded a total of 5,331 road accidents which resulted in 1,275 fatalities, while 921 persons were seriously injured and 3,287 people sustained minor injuries,” Jooma said.
“Road traffic accidents are becoming both a serious public health problem and a significant economic setback to the country. It is sad to note that the people who are mostly losing their lives are of between 25-44 years.”
He added: “This is very worrisome considering that this age group is for economically active members of society who could have been contributing to the economic development of the nation.”
He said most of the fatal accidents are avoidable.
The Day was set aside for African states to remember victims of road accidents and raise road safety awareness.
Earlier in the day, Jooma and Gondwe cheered patients, who were involved in road accidents, at Mulanje District Hospital.
Last year, Malawi Police Service disclosed that 2,459 people died in road accidents across the country in 2017, up from 2,343 in 2016.
The police attribute the accidents to speeding and reckless driving, among other factors.
A decade ago, World Health Organisation (WHO) website estimated that 20 road traffic collisions occur every day in Malawi, two of which are fatal and two serious injuries.
It added that about 1,000 people are killed in road traffic crashes in Malawi every year.
Elsewhere, South Africa has one of the world’s poorest road safety records as the country registers one million road accidents every year.