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Road accidents up 23%

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James Kadadzera

The country has registered more cases of road accidents between January and June this year than during a similar period last year, Malawi Police Service (MPS) records indicate.

Investigations which The Daily Times conducted revealed that, between January and June 2020, the country registered 4,860 cases of road accidents.

This year, however, cases of road accidents have increased, with MPS statistics indicating that 5,990 have been registered.

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When we sought the views of MPS assistant spokesperson Felix Misomali, he corroborated the findings, adding that, indeed, there were more cases of death in the first six months of this year than those recorded last year.

Seven hundred and eighteen people lost their lives between January and June this year, compared to 616 cases of road accident deaths registered within the first six months of 2020.

“Many of the road accident deaths were caused by reckless driving, unnecessary overtaking and carelessness by pedestrians and cyclists. We have also observed that children as young as two years old are fond of playing along the road, which has also triggered an increase in cases of road accidents,” Misomali said.

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In August this year, the World Bank (WB) cited alcohol abuse as one of the factors contributing to rising cases of road accidents in the country.

In a report, the bank indicated that alcohol abuse was leading to loss of property and human lives.

Findings of its study, which had 1,251 respondents, indicated that the alcohol consumption rate was at 30.7 percent among males and 2.5 percent among females.

The report shows minor differences across different age groups, with the highest prevalence of alcohol use among those aged between 25 and 44 years at between 26 and 27 percent while that for respondents aged more than 45 years stands at 19.7 percent.

“The highest prevalence of alcohol was found among patients with no formal education (33.3 percent) compared to patients with college or university education (22.1 percent) with the lowest prevalence. When comparing the different road users, the highest prevalence of alcohol was found among pedestrians (41.8 percent) while the prevalence among the other road users varied from 19.1 percent (bicycle riders) to 24 percent (motorcycle riders),” the report reads.

The report further notes that there were more cases of people being injured on weekend nights, at 59 percent, as compared to any other time of the week.

The report recommends a reduction of the recommended Blood Alcohol Concentration limit from 0.08g/dl) to at least 0.5 percent.

“The police should focus their controls on periods with a high frequency of alcohol-related crashes, primarily weekend nights but also weekday nights. In order to do so, the Police must be provided with the necessary testing equipment. Reflective gear for pedestrians should be recommended and provided, as well as instalment of road lighting, speed calming measures, and safer pedestrian crossings,” the report read.

When responding to the WB report at the time, MPS spokesperson James Kadadzera acknowledged that alcohol abuse was a contributing factor to rising cases of road accidents in the country.

“We are sensitising people to say, ‘please, if you are driving, don’t drink alcohol’,” he said.

Kadadzera said they had also increased the number of law enforcers operating at night to ensure that road users followed road traffic rules.

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