Saturday, September 18, 2021
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The effects of road sign deficit on Zim’s roads

A fallen road sign

Clayton Shereni
Accidents
across the world have been related to various factors including bad roads, bad
weather and human error but the impact of poor road signage has largely been
ignored as one of the major causes of road carnage on Zimbabwe’s roads.
Human
error, according to reports by leading road safety advocacy organization,
Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe (TSCZ), is the biggest cause of road traffic
accidents in Zimbabwe.
The
failure by relevant authorities to provide and maintain traffic signs in order
to guide road users through the numerous accident black spots and hazardous
places on the highways is now being seen as one of the major causes of road
accidents across the country.
In
Zimbabwe’s towns and cities, local authorities are responsible for road signage
and road maintenance while the Ministry of Transport maintains national roads.
These
authorities are doing very little, if anything to maintain roads and road
signage to optimum standards as evidenced by derelict road signs on both
highways and smaller, council-owned roads.
TSCZ
spokesperson Tatenda Chinoda said the roads should communicate with the drivers
which is the international standard.
“Road
signs will enable our roads talk. International best practices speaks about
‘talking’ roads; meaning roads are speaking to the driver and warning them and
advising them where necessary,” said Chinoda.
He,
however, warned that drivers themselves needed to be cautious even where there
was no road sign that could save anybody from gross negligent driving.
“Lack
of these signs does not necessarily translate to serious consequences of road
carnage as the behavior of the drivers themselves determines most of what becomes
of them, their vehicles, fellow motorists and their vehicles as well as pedestrians.
Today, we see drivers are flagrantly ignoring red traffic lights and not
stopping at stop signs. All the best road sign signals are in the mind of the
drivers. This is, however, not to say local authorities have no obligation to ensure
that the roads they construct are talking roads,” said Chinoda.
Some
traffic signs are now old, vandalized and faded while some are located at a
short distance from the hazard, giving no sufficient time for the user to take
action.
These
days’ road users have to bank their safety on their familiarity with the roads
not on the signage or demarcations usually erected on the side of the roads or
on the tarred surface.
Sharing
his sentiments, an illegal pirate driver who plies the Harare-Masvingo highway
route said he was being extra cautious when driving since the road signs are
now faded and some of them are no longer there.
“Our
Harare-Masvingo road is now in an extremely bad state and road signs haven’t
been spared the vandalism, dilapidation and utter neglect. During the night, it’s
very hard for me to drive without the assistance of these road signs which are
supposed to warn me of a hazard as I drive through,” said the driver.
Inadequate
budgetary allocations, corruption and nepotism have also contributed to the
lack of road signs since tenders to maintain and construct roads are allegedly
given to non-deserving companies on political grounds.
If
road signs are maintained, the rate of accidents can drop significantly as road
users would be well-informed of hazardous areas.

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