Road safety

Beware the festive season

Logan Fransman, Director of the Namibian German Centre for Logistics 

has written a column about the need to think about logistics and transportation during the festive season. Especially with all the parties taking place. Both NGCL and DAAD work to promote road and general transportation safety in Namibia together with their stakeholders. The newspaper, New Era and online publication The Economist have already published the column. Have a read of it and share it. It certainly is good advice.

Each year it is upon us before we know. The festive season, spreading cheer, thinking about the holidays, seeing the family and hopefully getting away from the stifling heat. But, not before we have run the gauntlet of the ‘office parties’, end of year functions and social get-together’s. Dressing up, stuffing our faces, dancing and there may be an open bar. That’s right, the open bar. Sounds like a great idea, but it is not without its pitfalls.

It’s been a long year and the office party seems like the perfect place to let your hair down and party with people you spend every day with. The first challenge starts before you have even left the house or the office. How do we get to the office party, or dinner. Usually held at one of Namibia’s upscale hotels, restaurants or party hot-spots. Getting to the venue boils down to nothing more than logistics. This is also where the potential issues may arise. We all like to relax and let off some steam. A beer, a wine or a fancy cocktail often helps us along. But, how do we get home when we know we’ve been drinking?

Anything more than one or two drinks can cause big problems, from making inappropriate remarks, to some truly awful dancing, but much worse is thinking we still have the ability to drive home safely. Alcohol is often to blame for this as it gives us false courage and makes us bold. We all know about the horrendous death toll on Namibia’s road. The number of fatalities only increases around the Christmas season and especially at night after an office party, or end of year dinner.

Logistics really is about moving goods from A to B and in reality you, your passengers and other road users are also ‘goods’ and deserve to arrive safely. That is why safety is such an important aspect of logistics. The logistics sector cannot flourish if it is not done safely. This doesn’t even take into account my personal desire, but also of all Namibians to see the number or road deaths drastically reduced. It is a very depressing statistic to know that Namibia leads the world in road fatalities.

Of course, this is a worst case scenario and lots of people believe they can still drink and drive, it’s always other people that have trouble drinking and driving. Usually there are no issues and you arrive home, drunk and ready for bed. Happy the next morning to see that your car is safely in the driveway. However, take a minute to think of the people that don’t arrive safely, or ever again. The family, spouses, friends and your office workers who now have to deal with the knowledge that you will never come back again, or sit in that office chair. Even worse, you may have caused the accident and be the reason someone else never comes home again. This leaves you with much more than a hangover after the party.

Moderation sounds boring, but there’s a reason why the saying, ‘Everything in moderation’ makes so much sense. So, with the next office party, let someone else take care of the logistics; get a taxi, designated driver, book a room in the hotel where the party is or have someone pick you up. There’s a myriad of choices all infinitely better than drinking and driving. Enjoy the party and have someone else worry about the logistics.

 


Road safety education and awareness, especially during the holiday season

With Christmas upon us, we are all thinking about heading out of town. To the coast, to the villages or even further afield. Almost every journey start in a car. This year, just like in previous years we lament the loss and injuries to our loved ones, friends and acquaintances as they used the roads in 2016. We Namibians don’t seem to learn, ever!

We are not stupid, yet as soon as we get onto the roads, we seem to leave our brain behind and carnage ensues. Road safety education in Namibia should be addressed at all levels, starting from an early age to achieve real and sustained behavioral change. We are talking about introducing road safety education in schools, that means every school in every one of the 14 regions. This is vital if the number of road deaths, accidents and injuries are to be decreased.

Recent MVA Fund data showed that road crashes increased by 16% from 2013 to 2014 and by 4% from 2014 to 2015. The increase in accidents translates into an increase in costs to the government and other institutions. Including; direct costs from medical and emergency services, after crash medical treatment, rehabilitation and sadly mortuary or funeral operations. However other costs in terms of workforce re-employment and re-training and poverty associated to that is unquantifiable. Just think of the social and community costs of losing a parent, child, colleague to name but a few. There are delays in transportation of goods, which often results in extra costs to be considered. The list and the impact on our everyday lives is endless.
Most accidents in Namibia occur as a result of drivers’ attitudes, behaviour, poor traffic guidance, visibility, speed, alcohol and fatigue. Of course there’s the unpredictable Namibian wildlife to contend with , ready to dart across the road when it pleases them without regard for traffic rules and laws.

The Namibia German Centre for Logistics (NGCL) and National Road Safety Council (NRSC) recently hosted a Mini Workshop Series session titled “Road Safety Education and Awareness” at the Namibia University of Science and Technology. Some of the stakeholders attending included representatives of themitarbeiter_03-256x372 Motor Vehicle fund (MVA), National Road Safety Council (NRSC), members from the City Police, Walvis Bay Corridor Group, Southern Business School and NUST students. Together we spoke of how and what can be tangibly done to decrease the road deaths, injuries and crashes. Education and repetition of this education is key, at all levels of society and for all road users…which is every Namibian.

Namibia must decrease the number of road accidents. One of the best ways is through road safety education and awareness. One of the  topics that jumped out was educating the public with more emphasis on child education. If children are taught road safety it is something they will carry with them throughout their lives. International road safety is guided through 5 E’s;

  • Education,
  • Enforcement,
  • Engineering,
  • Environment
  • Emergency Care.

For now we must realise as road users, the responsibility of road safety is shared amongst all Namibians and we must all work towards this common cause. Commitment is required by all relevant parties and cannot be successful if one of these areas is neglected.

Hopefully the need for road safety is something that we can all agree upon and work towards. Giving us a sense of safety and security when using the roads during this holiday season and in the coming years as well.

 

Wishing you safe and happy holidays and a prosperous 2017!