Why ‘Speeding’ and NOT ‘Over Speeding’ Is Responsible For Road Accidents In Africa

brian_s_column_logo.jpgMuch #respects to every one in the new year of 2012. Much more #respects to those road safety gurus whose mission was to make road safety a priority during the festive season:-and needless to mention, the new year celebrations! Great and innovative road safety promotion by youths in Angola where they staged a serious road safety education campaign in the northern Capital culminating into only 1 case of morbidity between 25th December 2011 and 1st January 2012. Bear in mind, this is arguably the busiest part of this country. The Gambian Youth Parliament did not sleep either, possibly because of the trade mark phrase ‘Accidents Never Announce Their Party’. Nor was the YOURS Team in Africa asleep:-Congrats/Felicitations/Asante Sana To YOURS Regional Director, Miss Sheila for running the show of the Embrace Life Campaign! Please #Marry Me (sic) Smile

In Ghana, pressure from the youths reached a threshold thanks to their suggested peaceful demonstrations against road accidents during the festive season! Yes, it fueled the Motor Traffic and Transport Unit of the Ghana Police Service, Inspector Simon Tenku to appeal to political leaders to include road safety messages in their political campaign in the upcoming 2012 general elections. Now, that’s a confirmatory test of what solidarity and healthy public policy as regards road safety is concerned. In Uganda, a Gaagaa Bus Company that has consistently and successfully failed to keep their buses in good condition, obeying resting points, over speeding and speeding has had its license  suspended as six died in a messy crash on 9th January 2012.

Like we say in Africa, ‘Satan Was Also God’s Servant’ and so were accidents during the festive season. Notably,  that 25 people were confirmed dead in a single ghastly motor accident that took place at a bend near Obangede junction, (Nigeria) Sad smile It didn’t go un noticed in Ghana as a  total of 270 people lost their lives through motor accidents in the Eastern Region in 2011 as against 245 in 2010, showing an increase of 25 deaths. And look at this:-According to the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RMTC) in South Africa, approximately 800 people  died since the beginning of December on South Africa’s roads over the festive season in December. For soccer fans like my self, we were gutted to loose 10 of our colleagues on December 28th 2011 as a Road accident claimed lives of Somali football fans! #gross

But, why in hell are these things happening?

I don’t mean to sound like Mr. Bean in his jaw dropping comedy clip ‘Welcome to Hell’ but, only a person from Planet mars may not be aware of why these ‘Road Traffic Accidents’ happen. Among the many, something is a miss as regards, the language that we use in Africa. For those that didn’t know, Africa, among the documented, has over 20,000 different languages  :-that is no surprise considering that there are 62 different languages in my country Uganda. Relating this to the health education and health promotion model, there is a cool chance of misinterpretation of a number of road safety messages. Special reference is made to these 2 words:

‘SPEEDING’ & ‘OVER SPEEDING’.  You must have been puzzled by community members, reporters, sometimes Road Traffic Officers, Policy makers and road safety advisors yelling on top of their lungs (read advocating for road safety) while using these 2 important words simultaneously. I personally have prepared and served the same soup of ‘Speeding and Over speeding’, but all that changed to having met a one English Doctor and Vice Chancellor of International health Sciences University, Dr. Nick Wooding, who for 2 hours successfully failed to convince us on the difference during our many public health debates! On the 4th meeting, we were hit by a fact that,  there is no ‘African’ language that puts a significant difference between these two important words as regards road safety. From the west coast of Malabo in Equatorial Guinea to the far East of Mombasa Port in Kenya, from the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa through the pearl of Africa (that’s my country, Uganda by the way) to extreme north, Cairo, Egypt, it remains a mystery over why the languages spoken over this stretch have endured a successful failure to define these words differently.

In the English version, Over speed is a condition in which an engine is allowed or forced to turn beyond its design limit. The consequences of running an engine too fast vary by engine type and model and depend upon several factors, chief amongst them the duration of the over speed and by the speed attained. With some engines even a momentary over speed can result in greatly reduced engine life or even catastrophic failure. The speed of an engine is ordinarily measured in revolutions per minute (RPM). Speeding on the other hand, according to the American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition  is the act or an instance of driving especially a motor vehicle faster than is allowed by law. Well, I suppose, that is pretty beautiful as regards the difference. It looks evident that speeding comes before the so called over speeding! Literally meaning, if our programmes technically looked at obeying speed limits, we definitely would be more effective…wouldn’t we? huh? I bet, we would.

Bottom line, road safety messages need to be consistent and send the same message across a region that boasts of diversified culture, beliefs and a number of gods watching over their territories Winking smile This could be best achieved through effective pre testing, consistent process and impact evaluation of campaigns and needless to mention, effective behavioral health promotion on road safety that should focus on the language bearing in mind that both the young and the old have a different language already. Hello Road Safety Organisations.

© This same article appears at YOURS official Website http://www.youthforroadsafety.org/activities/news/news_item/t/brian_s_column_why_language_is_important_for_road_safety



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