Although Namibia's road network is regarded as one of the best on the continent, road traffic accidents are the third biggest cause of death in Namibia, ranking after HIV/AIDS and Malaria. “Namibian mainstream media feature articles on road accidents every single week, ranging from front page news to the economy and political pages”, says Natasja Beyleveld (MD NaMedia). According to a recent report from the World Health Organization, Namibia was ranked number one in the world in terms of most road deaths per annum. Causes can be linked to speeding and reckless driving, general non-observance of traffic rules, and animals on roads in some instances.
Namibian road construction and maintenance officials align their strategies with international standards, however despite all the efforts to reduce road accident fatalities in Namibia, accidents remain a part of Namibia’s daily media agenda. Beyleveld comments; “during the past four years, Namibian Media reported on areas most affected by accidents as the Khomas, Erongo, and Otjozondjupa regions. Road accidents are likely to occur in places where there is a high number of cars and traffic, which would explain the reasons for media recording these regions as most impacted by accident reports”. The Khomas region is developing at a fast pace, and Namibians experience increased traffic on the road each year. The Otjozondjupa region is regarded as the “pass through” region and is located in an area of the country which leads to major towns. Many Namibians use this road during peak days or holidays, such as the Easter weekend and Christmas holidays.
Beyleveld continued to say, “road fatalities are recorded at disturbing rates and it has been noted by the MVA that young people within the productive age group of 21 to 40 years have become statistics”. She further noted that; “most media coverage on road accidents were recorded during months of October, with high volume peaks noted in April, August and December”. This relates to road safety campaigns, accidents recorded, and also – these months are popular ‘travelling month’s in Namibia as they have public holidays and long weekends.
Beyleveld concluded that; “Namibia has a relatively high prevalence of road accidents, compared to its sparse population. We need to drastically reduce the number of fatalities recorded. The Motor Vehicle accident fund has visibly been proactive in their plight to reduce accidents on our roads and to best assist victims, but they cannot do it on their own. All Namibians (individuals, Government, businesses) have a role to play. Drivers should adhere to the law, remain patient, observe the speed limits and when travelling long distances make sure that the vehicle is roadworthy and not overloaded”.