WE’RE at it again … talking about curbing road accidents, and doing nothing beyond talking. At one time, the government announced a six month project, in which it introduced hard-hitting measures, including introduction of what it described as a ‘points penalty system’ and straight arraignment of reckless drivers.
A penalty point is a formal reprimand endorsed on a driver’s licence that shows that a motorist is guilty of a specific driving offence. The point system falls under the Traffic Road Act Chapter 168, Section 25A and 114 (h) of 2002.
According to that system, payment of fines would depend on the offence committed. If a driver failed to use a safety belt, for example, he or she would be penalised by one point. Reckless driving would meanwhile earn a driver three points and for speeding, a driver would be given five points.
“If the driver got a total of 15 points, the violator’s licence would be suspended for six months,” said then deputy minister for Home Affairs, Hamad Yusuf Masauni. Points would then be deducted from drivers found to be driving recklessly; so the drivers who would get 15 points would have their licences revoked.
That project was to go hand in hand with raising awareness on the use of roads to special groups, including children, persons with physical disabilities, the elderly and cyclists, adding that the project will facilitate identification of accident-prone road stretches and areas.
These were, indeed, new measures aimed at controlling reckless driving, including speeding. We were supposedly determined to curb road accidents this time around, or so we were told.
Our traffic officers who would perform would also be identified and rewarded accordingly. That was decades ago – and now we’re back talking. This time around, traffic police are said to have planned to hand down 500,000/- and above in penalties to drivers found to be driving under the influence of alcohol.
Deus Sokoni, the Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), says that current fines aren’t deterrent enough to force drivers abstain from drinking. Significantly, ASP Sokoni was speaking at a meeting organised by the Tanzania Health Association, to collect views on how to curb ‘drink-driving’, which has claimed millions of precious lives.
The fact that police caught up with more than 20,000 drivers under the influence this year alone. So far, speaks volumes about our safety every time we get into a vehicle – under command from a person whose sobriety we aren’t quite sure about. God bless us all.