Women tackle road carnage

The fairer sex are stepping up the fight against the number of accidents on Namibian roads

05 November 2018 | Accidents

“There comes a time for us women to stand up, and I believe that time is now,” says Rosalia Martins-Hausiku, CEO of the Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA) Fund and the brainchild behind the women road safety conference that was launched in Windhoek earlier this week.

She said that although road crash data has shown a decrease, with crashes declining by 9%, injuries by 18% and fatalities by 31% year-on-year, too many people are still killed or injured on the roads.

“Crashes continue to occur with injuries becoming more severe, requiring us to think outside the box and come up with tangible and implementable initiatives.”

She underlined that for too long women's voices have been underutilised and that they can be “the catalyst we need as a nation to reduce the number of fatalities on our roads”.

Data consistently indicates that more males die and are injured in road crashes, as well as being responsible for those crashes.

Hardap regional governor Esme Isaack, said that on average, 7 000 people are injured in more than 4 000 crashes each year, while on average 700 persons are killed annually. Of those, around 70% are male, leaving hundreds of households in dire straits. “This, in my view, is tantamount to gender-based violence and results in broken social institutions,” she said.

In 2018 so far, 2 891 men were injured and 317 died, compared to 1 648 women injured in crashes and 122 who died.

Responsible sex

Martins-Hausiku emphasised women are, locally and internationally, generally safer and more responsible drivers and can make a powerful difference when taking centre stage on the issues impact road safety and improved transport in Namibia.

“Women are considered careful and law-abiding drivers and with the passage of time, the number of women drivers is increasing every day. Women are also less likely to be involved in a road crash and can play a vital role in the awareness of road safety issue.”

Many participants at the conference emphasised that when women take it upon themselves to include road safety as central to educating their kids, at home and in school, Namibia could see drastic changes in attitudes on the roads.

While government, through the MVA and other stakeholders has done a good job to fulfil their mandates, more can and should be done, Isaak said, calling on “more pragmatic approaches”, including the establishment of “traffic playgrounds in every region to complement theory with practical ways in which children are exposed to traffic environments on a simulation field”.

She said she will push for regional emergency and disaster management centres and stricter ­policing as well as a review of out-dated laws that hamper road safety efforts.

Martins-Hausiku underlined that the MVA's vision is to see an enhanced public transport system, which can offer reliable and safe alternatives to help protect lives, including those of women who are also vulnerable to increased crimes on the streets at night.

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