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    Sunday, 24 September 2017

    Journalists must report on post - accidents effects – TSCZ director


    HARARE - Journalists must extend their reports on road accidents beyond the scenes of  carnage because there are more devastating effects that are experienced by victims and their dependants later on.
    This was said by the managing director of the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe (TSCZ), Obio Chinyere when he addressed  a workshop of 65 journalists from major media houses around the country.
    He said accidents leave victims devastated and shattered and this is not just at the point of accident but it is worse in hospital and later on in life. Currently media reports concentrate on what happens at the scene and day of accident but there is need to report on what happens thereafter, said Chinyere.
    "There is a big untold story on road accidents. Accidents change lives and they have been known to shatter lives of victims and their dependents. Life is lost after accidents not entirely because of the impact of the accident but because of the kind of post-accident support provided," said Chinyere.
    He highlighted the concept of the Golden Hour where it is critical for road accident victims to get help within the first 60 minutes of the accident. He said the more the delay in rendering help the slimmer the chances of victims surviving the accident.
    He said it was therefore crucial to highlight how long it takes victims to get help after an accident because many people were dying because of delays in getting support.
    Chinyere asked journalists to imagine the many adverse factors faced by 39 people injured or killed in a recent accident involving a lorry in Hwange for example. He said most journalists' reports ended at the scene of the accident and the statistics of those killed or injured but there were more touching stories beyond that.
    "There is a lorry that had an accident in Hwange recently while carrying 39 passengers. Yes 39 passengers. We anticipate that the majority of the people on this lorry were from rural areas and some of them could have died at the hospital because they could not afford a pint of blood. These are some of the factors that cause fatalities on the roads and not the accident itself. We are therefore aurging journalists to also focus on post-accident factors because they are important in causing road deaths. This is the "new war" we are asking journalists to focus on.
    "There is also the Golden Hour. The Golden Hour is the critical time within which accident victims must get help . If one doesn't get help within one hour of an accident chances of survival diminish. Suppose there are people who have been involved in an accident and they are trapped or do not receive help for six hours. If one of them dies after four hours don't you think there are chances that he or she could have survived if he or she had got help in an hour? These are some of the factors of the accident that we urge journalists to dig into," said Chinyere.
    He also called upon journalists to look into the lives of victims after accidents which he said may change dramatically as accidents do not only affect the victim who may become wheel chair bound for life but the lives of dependents can be shattered with standards of living plummeting.
    "I have a relative who had a big post in a company in Harare and his children went to an upmarket school in the leafy suburb of Borrowdale and the company was responsible for the fees. He died in a road accident and normally company obligations to an employee stop when the employee dies. We had to sit down as a family and agree to withdraw the children from Borrowdale to a school in the high density suburb of Glen View. You can see how the children's lives were affected because of the accident and this is the area where we are asking journalists to shift their focus to so that there is more appeal in your stories in our 'war' for safety on the roads.
    "We strongly believe that journalists will help a lot if they shift attention to after accident effects. Let us put our heads together,  the journalists and ourselves so that we give comprehensive information to road users and tame the traffic jungle," said Chinyere.
    Chinyere also explained the Road Accident Fund which Government is planning to introduce. He said the reason for putting such a Fund in place is because current insurances do not immediately pay for services needed after an accident.
    "There have been questions on why there should be a Road Accident Fund when every car is required by law to have an insurance. Government has realised that insurance don't pay out until they know who was at fault. They need reports and even demand that cases  go through the courts before they pay but service providers in accident situations need to be paid immediately. So who will pay the ambulance, who will pay the hospitals? This is one of the reasons why this Fund is being set up," said Chinyere.
    He said that the Fund will ensure that service providers are paid immediately and costs are defrayed.
    He also said that there are situations where people are injured in hit and run accidents and that is one of the area where the Fund will cover.  Chinyere noted that although all kombis are required to have a Passenger Liability Insurance, most don't have. He said the Fund will also cater for such situations.
    He encouraged regular interface between journalists and TSCZ in the interest of road safety. He invited journalists to interact with him any time and described scribes as crucial to the 'war' for road safety.
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