“As an Advanced Life Support Paramedic and lecturer for almost a decade, I have always had an interest in motor vehicle accidents. ,” said Cloete.
Motor vehicle accidents are fast becoming the leading cause of death globally, despite pandemics such as HIV/AIDS, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
According to a 2014 U.S. based study, Namibia is said to have the highest road accident associated fatalities (45 per 100 000 compared to the global average of 18 per 100 000). In light of this, the study aimed to establish whether a relationship existed between the location and the causes of accidents on various intervals of the B1 road between Windhoek and Rehoboth.
This enabled the researcher to recommend cause-specific prevention strategies.
The relationship was evidenced by the highest number of accidents recorded in the first 20km stretch of road, an area that is sloped with numerous curves. This however, did not correlate with the highest number of injuries and fatalities, which were witnessed in subsequent intervals further away from Windhoek. The 21 to 40km interval, a fairly straighter road had the highest injuries and fatalities recorded over the seven-year period.
Surprisingly, the majority of the accidents were single-vehicle incidences which involved an average of three persons.
However, the most common cause in all intervals was driver related. This included speeding, alcohol intoxication, loss of control of the vehicle and overtaking.
“These are all preventable causes, yet the number of accidents, injuries and fatalities continue to increase in Namibia,” stressed Cloete.
She added that: “The World Health Organisation recommends that the key to accident prevention is stricter laws and stricter enforcement thereof. Namibia’s legal alcohol limit, for example, is higher than what is recommended internationally with no special category for novel drivers. Child restraint laws exist in Namibia’s legislation but how often have you been stopped or fined for your child not being in a car seat or being retrained with a seatbelt?”
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