The World Health Organisation says ‘over 1.2 million people die each year on the world’s roads and between 20 and 50 million suffer non-fatal injuries’. Of these, how many die on Zimbabwe’s roads? Are the statistics one gets from Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency reliable? ZimFact did a fact check following a claim from The Chronicle in a story by Esinathy Sibanda, Motorists urged to be vigilant during rainy season.
Researched by Lifaqane Nare
About 20 Zimbabweans reportedly died in a road traffic accident involving this bus in a 2015 accident along the Harare-Nyamapanda highway (Photo credit: VOA/Arthur Chigoriwa)
CLAIM: In Zimbabwe about five people are killed on our roads everyday, while approximately 38 persons are injured.
VERDICT: Partly correct.
This would translate to about 1 825 deaths annually due to road traffic accidents and 13 870 injuries.
While the story quotes the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe, the statistic is not directly attributed to the TSCZ or any other organisation.
What is a road traffic fatality?
The World Health Organisation defines a road traffic fatality as ‘any person killed immediately or dying within 30 days as a result of a road traffic injury accident’. However, only 80 countries, globally, use the 30-day definition with others using on scene, 24 hours, 7 days or within a year as indicators. WHO says Zimbabwe uses the 24 hour indicator.
Police and onlookers at the scene of a crash along the Plumtree-Bulawayo highway in 2014 (Photo credit: The Chronicle)
What does the data say?
According to the ZimStat Quarterly Digest of Statistics Second Quarter 2018,
1 793 people died on Zimbabwe’s roads in 2017 and 8 213 were injured. ZimStat attributes these statistics to the Zimbabwe Republic Police.
|2014||2 042||14 759|
|2015||2 368||12 399|
|2016||1 584||11 605|
|2017||1 793||8 213|
Is this data supported by other sources?
The data from the World Health Organisation only has statistics from 2015. According to its data published in July 2017, Zimbabwe reported 1 787 road traffic deaths for 2015. This was adjusted by WHO to 3 985 deaths. While the first figure was, according to WHO, obtained directly from the country, the second is data modelled on WHO’s assessment and adjustment of data from countries with an unreliable civil registration system.
According to WHO, the leading risk factors for road accidents in descending order are speeding; driving while intoxicated or under the influence of psycho-active substances; non-compliance or absence of safety provisions; distracted driving due to the use of mobile phones; dangerous road infrastructure and failure to comply with traffic regulations. In Zimbabwe, 63% of fatalities are passengers in motorised vehicles, followed by 26% being pedestrians. The prediction is that road traffic injuries will rise to become the fifth leading cause of death by 2030, globally.
The current statistics available for Zimbabwe on road fatalities and injuries are from ZimStat (attributed to the police). The data from other sources such as the World Health Organisation is not current.
From the data available, the conclusion is that the claim is partly correct: as of 2017, about five people died on Zimbabwean roads daily. However, the claim on the injuries that 38 people are injured daily is incorrect. The data from Zimstat shows that injuries have been on a steady decline since 2014 with an average of 40 daily in 2014 to a current average of 22 and not 38 as reported by The Chronicle.