Editorials 2011 to 2017

Home Archive pages 2011 to 2017

Editorial 2017

Who is responsible for Road Safety?

As I open the new obituary pages, “Crash News Africa 2017” and “Crash News World 2017”, I reflect on the continuing failure by individuals to take road safety seriously.

But firstly, let me thank those reporters who feed us the crash reports. In my opinion, we are getting the best quality and most informative reports from Zimbabwe, Kenya and South Africa. The other countries might learn a lot from these professionals. Well done!in-god-we-trust

Back in April 2016, you will have read, “The United Church of Zambia (UCZ) has conducted countrywide prayers, seeking God’s intervention, in the wake of escalating deaths resulting from road traffic accidents”. The recent crash in Tanzania (bus pictured), shows that sticking a message about God on to a bus, however well meaning, does not work as a road safety remedial measure. Much more engagement is required, more personal responsibility in the community, after all it is their lives on the line. You may trust in God but you could not trust the bus driver, who incidentally, is currently being sought by the police.

Another group “led by the bishop with other religious leaders in offering prayers at the spot, where 13 vehicles involved in the accident were burnt. While at the spot, he called on the government to involve religious leaders when commissioning new roads”. They do not need permission, they need to be proactive and act before the tragedy, not wring their pious hands after the fact, but as we know, in Africa, we generally fix the problem after the wheel falls off, not before.

There is no such thing as an ‘accident’, there is cause and effect. I am reminded of the man who gave his excuse for speeding, that he was late for a funeral (27/12/15). Why should we expect Divine intervention to override individual carelessness and stupidity? Road Safety has to get out of the blame shifting business and people have to acknowledge their own responsibility.

In August 2016, we read of 68 children injured, 3 killed in Kenya, when a brand new 52 seater school bus was put in the hands of a borderline lunatic. Having overloaded it, he put his foot down and then rolled it several times on a bend. The report suggested rather apologetically, “the driver of the bus also seemed to be new” –  unlike the one day old bus he had just wrecked!

Drunk driving remains a major contributory factor to crashes. Another contributory factor is those bastions of law enforcement, the police. Fortunately not so much the senior officers but the poorly paid lower ranks, continuing to supplement their miserable salaries by obtaining ‘donations’ from unsuspecting motorists. Those whose job is to uphold licensing integrity were described in one country as “a traffic authority “gangrened” by corruption and “fake licence holders” who “turn into lethal hazards””.police-car

There was also a report in one country that the police vehicles (a new fleet!) were “turning into death traps”. Seeing how little care is lavished on police vehicles, I have often thought that that process of deterioration could be accelerated by providing each new police car with a sledge hammer, so that the police could batter the vehicle into scrap metal even quicker. They seem to have so little care for their fleet. “Easy come easy go”, as they say.

The responsibility for road deaths lies squarely with the community in each country. It is not the responsibility of another country, some external international “nanny agency” to sort out a nation’s problems without invitation. And I do not mean the sort of invitation that goes without obligations on the part of the beneficiary. Every one who has worked in Africa knows that people do not turn down a “freebie”. They should learn a lesson from the organisations that supply Bibles to Africa. They ask for a small contribution for them, because they know that if they give something away it will not be treated as having any value, just like those police cars.

There needs to be a process of holding people to account. Holding to account those people who work in the local road safety organisations, right up to the Transport Ministers. Accountability without fear or favour for failure to act. While we are at it, let us hold the ‘experts’ (local and international) to account also. If the “experts” have achieved so little to date, they need to go, because they certainly would in any self-respecting company that had to show results.

Yet how can we have any accountability when we do not know where the responsibility lies? It is about time that we the taxpayers were told ‘who’, at every level in the road safety programmes, is responsible for delivering ‘what’ and the precise targets and indicators that each one must achieve.  Give us the names of people please. And while we are at it let us see what has been a sustainable achievement, not another ‘good practice’ model project. What did we get for our money that will stand the test of time? It is not fair to other nations that they fund Africa’s road safety forever.

If we help countries, then we should expect more in return than excuses for why things did not happen. It seems to me that the big beneficiaries of road safety programmes are the ‘T’ shirt manufactures, the poster printers, the cap makers, the pen makers, the banner makers and those of course who get these ‘freebies’. And what is the impact of all of this on casualty reduction? unrswYour guess is as good as mine but I think the figure is quite near to zero. (Image: local transport carrying African road safety supporters to a UN road safety event!).

When are we going to see a war on the waste and corruption? Perhaps when the liberal elites have the courage to confront the culprits and stop foreign aid? Yet we hear that a new fund is being launched in support of road safety. No doubt the International Consultancies will be rubbing their hands but not we tax payers. Hopefully, the ‘peasants revolt’ that is now occurring in many countries around the world will close down funding for these operations unless the beneficiaries will meet them half way.

I read with regret, as we close the year, that Ms Christine Lagarde (IMF Managing Director), was found guilty of ‘negligence by a person in a position of public authority’. The head of the International Monetary Fund choked back tears as she proclaimed her innocence on the final day of her trial in Paris (Times report). I choke too and my regret is that we can hardly demand transparency and honesty from the beneficiaries of international funding when the people who should set an example do not.

So it is business as usual as we enter 2017 AD. The same old villains, the same old protagonists, the same pleas for care, the same wise words, more committees and more declarations of good intent from the great and the good.  Just remember that where there is no accountability, promises count for nothing.

See you next year…..or maybe not?

 Is Aid killing Africa?

Editorial 2016

Déjà vu

As I restructure the website at the start of a New Year, I archive the old news and create the new pages. The popular “Crash News Africa” and “Crash News World” pages for 2016 are fresh and empty. It is like opening another burial ground. Over the year, these new pages will fill up with obituaries, a graveyard of traffic fatalities, memorials of lives lost, many needlessly, on the World’s highways, especially Africa. I will be writing about people who are not yet dead or injured. That is a solemn thought.

It is déjà vu (an event or experience currently being experienced that has already been experienced in the past). The tragedy of road death will continue to mount until we start to apply stricter sanctions, not just against the individuals who break the laws of the road but also against those who pontificate as to what should be done. Not only those local Road Safety Councils, Road Safety Commissions, Ministries of Safety, Roads Authorities, Ministries of Works and Transport and the Police but also those in the International brigade of Transport professionals, Agency managers and Donors who continue to fail to deliver on the plans that they advocate.

In 2007 I attended the African Road Safety Conference in Accra. The great and the good attended, as they do. It was a pleasant time in congenial surroundings, spent with old friends. After many sessions of “death by PowerPoint”, a statement was issued and everyone shook hands and departed. What was the outcome and what was achieved? Little or nothing in terms of casualty reduction. In 2015 another gathering of the great and the good convened in Brazil and issued their statement which had echoes of the 2007 statement and other aspirational statements. Déjà vu.

You will have little difficulty in getting people to attend these International conferences, especially where it is all paid for. The World and his wife will come if it is free. Some change makers may be fortunate enough to attend but it is more likely to be the senior political figures and senior staff rewarded with an overseas “jolly”. What you will get as an output is a notional agreement that will wither with time, because the people involved in making decisions are not always the people charged with carrying out the decisions.

There is no enquiry as to why they fail, why they do not achieve the targets, why they have been paid good taxpayers money for failure and why they continue to get paid good taxpayers money, for more of the same the next year? If you ran a private business and your employees failed to do the job that they were paid for, you would replace them. You would not give them the opportunity to repeat their failure year after year.

The International community is somehow afraid, in this politically correct era, to name and shame the failures. Yet that same International community is happy to take the donor nation’s hard earned tax dollars to fund failure. Where is the accountability?

Enough. If you have evidence of failure, I am happy to publish it in these pages subject to verification?

The Decade of Action, that aspirational programme with hypothetical casualty reductions, is heading for the rocks. It will not work, not because the safety measures are bad science or irrelevant. They are just not being implemented. If success is not being achieved, we need to have an enquiry as to the cause of the failure and not just keep pretending that the targets are realistic and achievable and finally brush it under the carpet in 2020.

Let us have a financial evaluation of funding (both donor and internal) spent on road safety over the last 5 years. Make public the value for money if there is any. If money is being wasted, the donor nations should shut the account. If people fail, they should be retrained or dismissed for incompetence. If a surgeon had a history of failed operations, we would avoid him like the plague and he would become unemployable. Let us have some of this in the road safety community and have a “Decade of Change” or even better a “Decade of Honesty”.

Donor organisations seem to fail to grasp the fact that road safety cannot simply be compartmentalised and addressed in isolation from other national issues. There are some fundamental building blocks that need to be in place before any investment will have an impact. So there is an ORDER in which things need to occur, not simply tackling EVERYTHING at the same time (as current Action Plan blue prints would suggest). Sometimes investment needs to be directed at good governance first and foremost (which may take years) before any investment in road safety will bear any fruit.

It may be that the people driving the road safety agenda are just out of touch with the countries they aim to help. What appears to be important in Africa is just different to what is important elsewhere. The UN Study on My World (http://data.myworld2015.org/ ) suggests that what Africans really want are education, healthcare and jobs. Whether “Better transport and roads” includes safety, is open to question. Who is listening to these countries?Myworld

If we are going to impose a road safety agenda, it should with the signed consent of the leaders of the countries and on a basis where the country itself shows willing by providing some resources? If the political will is lacking then the option is to withdraw until there is a political will. Presidents can make things happen if they want to and that is their business not ours. Continuing to fund failure however, does not constitute a road safety programme.

And one final point. The “West” often fails to understand the underlying cultural values and ways of working in other countries. Developing an understanding is a good starting point before applying the neo-colonial wisdom that “we know best” and our “one size fits all” high tech’ road safety programme will work where you live. It clearly does not.

It is time for a reality check.


UK Aid. Value for money?

  • KENYA  UK aid: £129m a year
  • NIGERIA UK aid: £250m a year
  • RWANDA UK aid: £66m a year
  • SOUTH SUDAN UK aid: £134m a year
  • UGANDA UK aid: £92m a year
  • ZIMBABWE UK aid: £66m a year
  • SOUTH AFRICA UK aid: £19m a year

Editorial 2015

A year of do-it-yourself

red spanner - CopyWhat does this spanner signify? Following a crash at the 1966 Belgian Grand Prix, Sir Jackie Stewart was left trapped in his overturned BRM soaking in fuel. With no tools to help him, stewards had to wait for other drivers, Graham Hill and Robert Bondurant to help after borrowing a spanner from a spectator. From now on, Jackie Stewart would tape a spanner to his steering wheel, travel to races with his own doctors whilst his team supplied a medical truck for the benefit of all.Steering Wheel

That spanner is there to remind you that if you want road safety, it is in your hands to do something about it, because despite years of effort, the National Safety organisations have made little or no impact on crash and casualty reduction. Your churches may be interested in your souls but they also have shown no interest in saving your life on the road.

Jackie Stewart took his own initiative to reduce the risk of injury and death. If you want Road Safety in Africa, then for the foreseeable future, you will have to do something for yourself. So what can you do?

Jackie Stewart made a remarkable contribution to motor-racing; he took the world championship three times. When it came to making a dangerous sport safer, Stewart led the way. “People were dying …how could I just do nothing?” He became the butt of jokes and criticism. An uncompromising stance on safety even generated death threats.  Another driver, Innes Ireland, mocked Jackie with chicken noises while flapping his elbows. Jackie was no coward. He was facing facts. “Imagine an eleven year window…when you lose 57, repeat 57 friends…watching them die in horrific circumstances…I didn’t have to imagine.” It was real.

If you have been following these pages over the past years, you will have seen and read about the devastation and loss caused by traffic injuries. You can do something. You can help yourself and you can help others. The Community Action Plan gives you some ideas to start with. Do not accept poor results and excuses from people who are being paid good money to provide Road Safety (that you fund) and then fail to deliver. If these people are innefective get them removed, seek political help, write to your President. Doing nothing is a poor alternative. red spanner

Remember the Spanner.

If you want some advice or guidance, please use the Leave a Reply box below.

NEWS. US Government says it is fining Honda $70 million for not reporting to safety regulators more than 1,700 complaints that its vehicles caused deaths and injuries, and for not reporting warranty claims. It’s the largest civil penalty levied against an automaker. In May 2014 General Motors was fined $35m and agreed to take part in “unprecedented oversight requirements” over its massive recall of cars with faulty ignition switches that have been linked to 13 deaths. See Decade of Hypocrisy.


Latest: VW Emmissions scandal September 2015

Greg Archer the Clean Vehicles Manager at the Brussels-based pressure group, Transport & Environment said, ‘I think it is very likely that other companies are using devices similar to the one used by Volkswagen,’. ‘Because the real world results and the test results are just so different for so many models. Volkswagen is undoubtedly the tip of the iceberg. ‘People should be aware that this is not a victimless crime,’ Mr Archer said. ‘These cars are producing pollution that kills people.’


New. Controversial Australia NSW Speed Camera Report. Crash increases at some camera locations

Click to download

ADB: Road Safety Manuals for Africa. Click to download.

ADB Logo


Latest Crash News US court orders Toyota to pay $11 mn for fatal accidentWashington, Feb 4 2015

A jury in the US city of Minneapolis has found Toyota partially responsible for a 2006 accident which left three people dead, and ordered the Japanese carmaker to pay $11 million in damages, according to media reports.
The jury said Tuesday that the 1996 Toyota Camry had a design defect which was partly to blame for the crash in which three people died, including two young children. But the jury also found Koua Fong Lee, the car’s driver, 40 percent responsible for the collision with another vehicle in which Javis Trice-Adams, his son Javis Adams and his nephew Devyn Bolton died.
The court ordered Toyota to pay $2 million to Lee and the remaining sum to the victims’ families. Lee argued that the accident was caused by a design flaw in the car that caused it to accelerate suddenly. After the crash, Lee was convicted of responsibility for the accident and sent to prison. However, after serving two-and-a-half-years in prison, the prosecution decided to award him a retrial when it discovered numerous reports of sudden acceleration problems in Toyota cars. The Japanese company has denied that Lee’s car was not subjected to the recalls of many of its vehicles over acceleration issues.



New.  Road Safety Annual Report 2014


“The UK Department for International Development (DfID) recognises corruption as a critical development challenge and seeks to tackle it through direct and indirect activities.DFID has not, however, developed an approach equal to the challenge, nor has it focussed its efforts on the poor”. DfID’s own surveys are contradicted by the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI). Nigerian “Model” police stations see a rise in the perception of corruption AFTER DfID funding. Many citizens report being asked to pay bribes to police and Kano State Model Police Station (MPS) is worst.  Read the Full Report here.


Global disease incident map. Click map to open


 Le ministère de la Sécurité la version francophone (Cette version a été développée par M. Sorin Honc – expert international en économie des transports).


Editorial 2014

We have featured some major African crashes in 2013 involving buses. It highlights the lack of provision of safe affordable transport for the poorer sections of society. Can the lot of these travellers be improved?

Many years ago, there was an Italian officer who was very concerned for the troops under him. He also realised that people in positions of responsibility, like him, could make things happen just by getting those around him to do their jobs. One day, one of his servants became sick and he turned to a man that he knew, who also possessed authority. He said to this man, you just say the word and my servant will get better.

You don’t even have to drop by the barracks to do this. Jesus did what he asked and was amazed because He had never seen faith like this soldier’s anywhere.

While agreeing that road safety is an issue, most politicians don’t use their authority to change the status quo. We have a suggestion for you the reader in Africa. Your politicians are there because you elected them. They owe their living to you and they should serve you. Lobby them to put aside their expensive government vehicles and once a week, or so, start using your poorly maintained transport. That may just encourage them to work for improvements. The same goes for your church leaders, get them to use the public transport and work to improve it.

“Haves” and “Have Nots”

Politicians carTro Tro






We can throw money at road safety for decades to come and we will still see casualties rising as they are today and nothing will change. Why? Firstly it is a human behaviour problem and secondly, Road Safety is not a key issue for most politicians. It is for the ordinary man and woman. 300,000 lives have been lost on the roads of Africa in 2013 and I can give you a New Year promise. Unless you start to take action for yourselves, if you are here next year, we will be looking at even bigger numbers of casualties.

2013 Fatal attraction

Why don’t cars carry health warnings since they contribute to the annual cull of humanity resulting in an estimated 1,300,000 deaths and over 50,000,000 casualties?Cars kill hatchedThe message on smoking as a danger to life is widely publicised but road death remains off of the radar as a serious health issue.plain-cigarette-460Why do Motor Manufacturers produce projectiles that vastly exceed the speed limit in most countries and maim and kill? Is this a responsible act? They know that if they do not produce performance then people will not buy them. It is supply and demand. They build potential killers and people love it to be so. Here are some reasons for changing attitudes. “Excessive and inappropriate speed is the biggest road safety problem in many countries. While identifying contributory factors in traffic crashes can be somewhat subjective, there are surveys and studies that suggest that as much as one-third of collisions resulting in a fatality involve an element of excess speed. Speed is an aggravating factor in all crashes.”

“The probability that a pedestrian will be killed if hit by a motor vehicle increases dramatically with speed. The research indicates that while most vulnerable (unprotected) road users (pedestrians) survive if hit by a car travelling 30 km/h, the majority are killed if hit by a car travelling at 50 km/h.” (CLICK for Source) This is the fatal attraction. One day, someone will sue a manufacturer for producing a killer. Until then drivers will be active victims and pedestrians passive victims (just like passive smokers). Go to the Decade of Action page to see what is being done internationally and ask what you can do to publicise the issue. We have provided some ideas for your community under the tab Community Action on the menu bar above.

2012 Another year of living dangerously

Its hardly a celebration as we move into our second year, with another 280,000 people killed on Africa’s roads and with no decline likely in the near future. The response to the call for involvement in road casualty reduction by the African churches has been dismal and suggests that road safety is not a major issue for them.  Of course, there are a multitude of other problems besetting the continent but this is one that does not require huge sums of money to solve. Perhaps the church leaders are not encouraging personal responsibility for this health issue? Pursuing this theme has resulted in this new series of ministries aimed at encouraging individual Christians to take responsibility for their own lives and ministers to encourage them to do so. Download “Beggars or Kings”.

2011 Sermons on Safety

SermonsClick to download pdf version  Sermon outlines v2.23MSWord version     Sermon outlines v2.23 Here are a series of sermon outlines focusing on the subject of Road Safety and dedicated to Africa. Why is road safety such an important issue? It will become the second leading cause of death and injury in the next decade if nothing is done. Road Safety does not always require expensive solutions. If we can change attitudes, then we can start to affect the numbers of casualties. Ministers of the Gospel are ideal road safety advocates, if not the very best. They have that special qualification, because, Ministers of the Gospel spend their lives changing people’s attitudes and behaviour. Here is another area where they can be very effective.

The population of Africa is estimated at 1,033,042,510 souls with the number of Christians estimated at 503,742,508 souls.  Half of the population of Africa is nominally Christian! That is a huge and powerful human resource for change. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYet, 280,000 people are killed on Africa’s roads each year and up to 5,500,000 injured! This is a preventable disease. The cost is at least $25,000,000,000USD, money that could be better spent elsewhere.

Christians are suffering as a result of this carnage, yet they have the means for change in their own hands. If Pastors and Ministers add “Road Safety education” to their duty of care for the flock of God, the casualties can be reduced.    Global burden(DALYs = Disability Adjusted Life Years The sum of years of potential life lost due to premature mortality and the years of productive life lost due to disability.)  

Click to link: Every death on every road in Great Britain 1999-2010


WHO launches new tool to support development of strong road safety mass media campaigns around the world 

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