The number of motorists who hit pedestrians or other vehicles on the roads and speed off without rendering assistance is now on the increase with the police recording about 2 500 hit-and-run accidents in the first half of the “bloody” 2022 that has seen the country losing 984 lives on the roads so far.
Many of the hit and run accidents involve pedestrians struck and killed or injured while crossing roads and the motorists just flee without rendering assistance or making a report, a serious offence for which magistrates tend to impose higher sentences when someone is killed or injured, since the assistance might as well have saved a life.
Police are now hunting down a number of such motorists and a list has since been compiled for apprehension.
Some of the drivers have already been arrested and if there was a death then charged with culpable homicide while others are still at large.
According to police statistics, 2 480 pedestrians were struck by hit-and-run motorists with almost certain injury and many seriously injured or killed. Police will, however, soon release specific figures of the people who were killed in hit-and-run accidents.
In an interview, police reiterated that the law demands that drivers must stop after being involved in an accident.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said hit-and-run accidents are now rampant and drivers must go back to the basics and stop whenever an accident occurs.
“We are worried about an increase in hit-and-run road traffic accidents that are occurring countrywide. So far about 2 480 hit and run accidents were recorded between January and June this year.
“According to the law, drivers should stop and render assistance, but it is worrying that some of them speed off and do not even make a report to the police,” he said.
Asst Comm Nyathi said when arrested, such drivers will face the full wrath of the law.
He said they were also looking for some of the motorists on their wanted list for committing such cases.
Police in Umzingwane are investigating a fatal hit-and-run traffic accident in which a pedestrian died on the spot after she was hit by an unknown motorist on Sunday at the 371 km peg along Harare-Bulawayo Road.
In another accident, police in Makuti, Mashonaland West were also investigating a hit-and-run road traffic accident in which a truck hit one person on last Tuesday at around 5:50am at the 289 km peg along Harare-Chirundu Road.
The victim sustained serious injuries on both legs and was referred to a clinic in Makuti for treatment.
Police in January launched a manhunt for an unknown motorist who was driving a silver BMW vehicle who sped away from a police patrol car before running over and killing a person suspected to have been drunk and was sleeping by the roadside in Hwange.
The accident occurred around 1 am on January 2, after the motorist had been waved down to stop but sped off.
In May, a driver was involved in a hit-and-run accident that claimed the life of a security guard at Chipindura Primary School on Africa Day.
John Mwanga (53) was walking along Bindura-Mt Darwin Road when he was hit by an unknown vehicle that was travelling from Bindura to Mt Darwin at around 8pm.
In a recent accident where the motorist was also injured, last Monday a Chinhoyi NMB bank branch security guard was killed by a speeding vehicle outside the banking hall as he knocked off from work.
The man was killed at around 7am, when a driver of a car that was headed west, lost control and veered off the road.
According to witnesses, the security guard was hit as he prepared to ride his bicycle while the vehicle overturned and landed on its roof.
Speaking during the launch of the 2022 Heroes and Defence Forces Holidays Road Safety Campaign on Thursday, Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe chairperson Mr Kura Sibanda said: “When travelling at night, we encourage pedestrians to wear bright colours or reflective clothing so that motorists can see them from a distance.
We urge all road users to adhere to the rules of the road.”
In the first half of the year, 984 people were killed while 5 103 others were injured in 25 309 road traffic accidents recorded, 759 of them fatal, between January and June this year.
During the same period last year, 867 people died while 3 410 were injured in 20 679 road accidents recorded.
They were 755 fatalities recorded during that period.
Traffic experts believe that the fairly strong lockdowns for waves of Covid-19 helped reduce accidents by reducing the number of vehicles on the road.