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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Expensive Traffic Tickets Can't Reduce Road Accidents

DESPITE dramatically increased traffic fines earlier this year and contrary to expectations, road accidents in Namibia have increased by some 20%.

The shocking news came to light during the recent Namibian Road Safety Indaba, held in Windhoek when traffic safety expert and Criminal Justice Lecturer, Eliphas !Owos-oab, from the Polytechnic of Namibia made his presentation on how the increased traffic fines affected road safety.

He said Namibia lacks a road safety strategy and stressed that law enforcement practices have become predictable. “Drivers know where the law enforcement hot spots are and slow down when they get there and accelerate when they have passed them. Furthermore, spots are never at places where Police officers have the most problems.”

He said Namibia’s strategies are diverse and every traffic entity has its own strategy derived from the national vision. “We lack accident data, and whatever data are available, lack integrity. Road safety is in a bad shape, not because bad decisions were made, but rather because good decisions were and are badly implemented.”

He dropped another bomb when he said the national statistics of the Road Safety Council released in 2009 are those of 2006. “For the past five years we don’t have anything.”

He also said the current Motor Vehicle Accident Fund (MVA) statistics grant too much weight on injuries and facilities, thus excluding damages to vehicles and property.

!Owos-oab noted that law enforcement is not coordinated and information technology between the courts and the law enforcement agencies and NATIS is not integrated.
According to him, when a driver licence is suspended, the driver can go to a Police Station, swear out an affidavit and obtain a duplicate at NATIS. He recommended that there should be immediacy of traffic violation punishment and sanctions.

“If Namibia is to contribute to the efficiency and effectiveness of traffic law enforcement on its roads, it needs to examine policy choices about the role of the Police in road safety and traffic law making.”

He recommended that road safety should be a presidential mandate or there should be a permanent advisory board advising the Ministry of Works and Transport on road safety management issues or a lead agency coordinating road safety issues in Namibia.

Source: New Era

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