Excessive speed: Leading cause of accidents in Zambia

EXCESSIVE and inappropriate speed is one of the leading factors contributing to road injury and fatalities that the country is recording.

The higher the speed, the greater the stopping distance required, and hence the increased risk of a crash.
According to a Road Safety Manual on Speed produced by the World Health Organisation (WHO), it is clear that as more kinetic energy must be absorbed during a high-speed impact, there is a higher risk of injury should a crash occur.
Speeding is one of the major causes of road traffic crashes in Zambia. A baseline survey on speeding conducted by the Zambia Institute for Policy Analysis and Research (ZIPAR) on behalf of the Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) in 2016, revealed that over 39 percent of vehicles sampled in Central, Lusaka, Southern and Copperbelt provinces were speeding on public roads. This entails that most of the drivers on the Zambian roads are driving above the prescribed speed limit, a situation that has contributed to road crashes, resulting into deaths and injuries. Speeding is ranked as the second cause of road traffic accidents in Zambia. If motorists observe appropriate speed limits, the country is projected to reduce the number of road traffic accidents by 35 percent.
Further, it was established that speeding prevalence was high among male motorists with 58 percent of them being observed as over-speeding than their female counterparts. The speeding prevalence among female motorists was 42 percent.
Accident statistics reveal that 50 percent of road traffic fatalities involve passengers and cyclists. Passengers and motorists are equally at risk of being involved in a road traffic crash involving an over-speeding vehicle.
The frequency of speeding vehicles are so prominent along the major highways in Zambia. Accidents statistics further reveal that road traffic crashes involving speeding drivers are prominent on the Great North Road (Livingstone to Nakonde).
Research has shown that drivers driving at high speed have the greatest risk of being involved in a road crash than drivers driving at lower speed. Additionally, the impact, chances of sustaining serious injuries and death are very high as compared to a driver moving at slow speed. Additionally, the extent of the damage to the vehicle, property and road furniture is equally extensive in a road crash involving a vehicle moving at high speed.
Apart from the trauma and human suffering associated with road traffic crashes, the impact on the economy is enormous.
Speeding has many disadvantages than advantages on the road. The following are some of the disadvantages of over-speeding:
a. Reduced reaction time,
b. When in motion, the driver and passengers move at the speed of the vehicle,
c. Poor judgement of distance, and
d. Increased severity of injury.
Therefore motorists and passengers have the responsibility to ensure that vehicles move at appropriate speed. Speed management is a very important tool for improving road safety. However, improving compliance with speed limits and reducing unsafe driving speed are not easy tasks as many drivers do not recognise the risks involved and often the perceived benefits of speeding outweigh the perceived problems that can result.
Thus, the management of speed calls for a concerted, long-term, multi-disciplinary response by all stakeholders.
Reducing motor vehicle speed where the road user mix includes a high volume of vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists is especially important and should be followed by all motorists.
Excessive and inappropriate speed is causing a serious and worsening road safety problem in Zambia, and a call for change in bad driver behaviour in this regard cannot be over emphasised.
A number of research projects conducted globally have clearly identified inappropriate speed as being a particular problem. Thus, as a country we will equally have a portion of this problem which need to be addressed immediately.
Zambia needs to start drawing lessons from successful and non-successful initiatives used to illustrate the advice provided, and put in place workable speed management strategies such as speed zooning, speed culming, and speed limit measures.
Additionally, there is need to consider the potential role of measures involving engineering and enforcement, as well as using education to change speed related behaviour.
In order to actualise this personal responsibility of road safety, all stakeholders are encouraged to participate in road safety matters. Public and private institutions, Public Service Vehicle Operators and drivers, the media, policy makers and all stakeholders should take up initiatives to promote road safety at all levels.
Finally, there is urgent need for motorists to change the bad driver attitude being exhibited on the road which is characterised by a trend of speeding especially along the major highways, a situation which has been cited as one of the major causes of accidents on the Zambian roads.
Motorists should therefore follow appropriate speed limits. Those that will be found wanting will have their Driver Licences suspended or cancelled as provided for under the Road Traffic Act No. 11 of 2002.
The author is Head – Public Relations
Road Transport and Safety Agency – Website:

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