Rules of the road

EDITOR - I wonder if the Zimbabwe traffic police know the rules of the road?

We know that they are adept at picking out the deficient kombis. We know that bald tyres, broken wing mirrors, and speeding can lead to lethal accidents. Stopping the kombis, however, has nothing to do with trying to ensure that kombi passengers live longer or travel more safely, but with obtaining a bribe that is marginally less than the fine would be.

We know that the policemen who are honest and serious about their work will be discriminated against by their colleagues, because the system only works if everyone is equally corrupt.

Stopping kombis or being called to the scene of an accident require virtually no effort on the part of the traffic police whereas actually observing the roads would not only take more skill, and more effort but require that the police know the rules. Do they?

In the last 10 days in the Avondale/Mount Pleasant/Kensington area I have witnessed the following:

o a vehicle going straight through a red light

o a car indicating left and turning right

o a vehicle turning off a main highway without indicating

o a car speeding down an on-coming traffic lane in order to push into a backed-up queue of cars

o a kombi revving up a on-coming traffic lane and then abruptly turning across the cars queued at the lights

o a passenger in a Mercedes breezily throwing a bottle through the window

o a truck sitting in the overtaking lane at 20 k.p.h. thereby inducing the more impatient drivers to overtake on the on-coming traffic lane

o kombis stopping to pick up or drop off passengers right across an intersection

o kombis pulling up right on the corner of an intersection so that drivers who want to turn into the main thoroughfare cannot see left (or right)


All these incidents take place regularly. However, when people are killed or maimed in traffic accidents, the attitude we adopt is fatalistic, as if it could into be helped: (how often have you read, 'the bus went off the road' as if it had a mind of its own?) I surmise that the majority of accidents in Zimbabwe could be prevented by people driving better and abiding by the rules of the road. This they will only do if the laws are enforced and the traffic police do their job as if they had pride in it, and not in the bribes they take. – I.M., by e-mail