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Mass media programs in reporting road safety Road mobility is a primary requirement for human life that has become a universal calamity as an ever-rising cause of death and disability worldwide (Mahmud et al, 2011). Mass media mostly radios and journalists can play a key role to raise knowledge on road safety. Road safety mass media campaigns play an important role in improving road safety by promoting safe behaviours (Benny, 2009).
In particular, they can publicize preventive messages and promote safe behaviours through radio programs which riches mass, increase people’s awareness and understanding of the seriousness of the problem and advocate for safer roads and systems (Benny, 2009). Unfortunately, it happens often that journalists write on traffic and safety related issues only when they have to report on a crash. In these cases, reporters tend to have little time to explore a variety of angles for their stories or to understand why accidents happen or why some of them are fatal or what the consequences are for the families, communities and society at large(Derek et al 2012). The result is that most traffic-related news limit to the What, Who, Where, When and Why and to inform readers about what happened. Yet, it is by analyzing the causes and consequences of road accidents, by shifting from traffic-related stories to road safety pieces that journalists can contribute most effectively to change.
In Tanzania as well the record of road accidents was very high last 10 years ago although it has started to decrease in 2017 due to new policies introduced Tanzania Police Force under new administration of newly elected president and the way traffic police department has started to do their work practically by measuring whether a driver was drunk or not, putting a technological tools that monitor the speed of cars especially passenger buses which travel to different region, enforce the laws and bylaws. The so-called the introduction of BODABODA has also increased the number of accidents and deaths. In other hand media in Tanzania have tried to produce a television and radio programs to create awareness and educate people, for example, TBC has introduced a radio program called SAFIRI SALAMA to educate the society about road safety issues since 2008. Still, there is a challenge because the majority of media in Tanzania do not have radio or television programs that provide education on road safety and extensively organize the workshops for road safety despite the high number of deaths as a result of road accidents. In this scenario, media owners and the government could put emphasis on having many different programs regarding road accidents and safety.
Road accidents and safety Globally, traffic accidents cause an estimated 1.2 million death and 50 million injuries per year (Ssewanyana & Niyitegeka 2010), of which 85% occur in developing countries like Tanzania (Derek et al, 2012). Road traffic accidents, together with non-communicable diseases such as cancer, will collectively account for 56 per cent of the projected 67 million deaths worldwide in 2030 (World Health Statistics, WHO, 2016). According to the Crime and Traffic Incidents Statistics report from January to November 2017 in Tanzania, fatalities and injuries, rooted by road accidents decreased by 4,016 to 5,135 from 9151 recorded in the similar time 2016. Deaths and injured people caused by road accidents also go down by 615(20%) and 3,285(39.3%) respectively in 2017 and the number of injured persons decreased from 8,360 to 5,075 in 2016 and 2017 correspondingly. The root of accidents has been related mostly to human error for about 80-90% of the road fatalities and include; irresponsible driving, over speeding, careless use of the road, incompetent drivers and driving while drunk or using drugs, among others (Derek et al, 2012). Without pre-emptive action, road accidents victims are expected to double by the year 2020. Road traffic damages damage the growth and development of developing countries by draining at least one per cent of their gross domestic product (GDP), or an equivalent of $65 billion annually (Morris, 2012). Governments and transportation authorities at different levels spend a great deal of money and effort in changing the behaviour of road users by promoting road safety awareness. Traffic awareness is recognized by many as one of the most important ways of convincing road users to adopt safe road behaviours, (Delhomme, et al, 2009). Dangerous as it is in poor countries, the rich countries have also sustained to establish involvements that contribute significantly to the reduction in road accidents through promotion of road safety awareness through media, workshops, enforcement of legislation to control speed and driving under influence, mandating the use of helmets and seatbelts, etc, (World Health Organization (Ed.), 2013). Mode of transport in Tanzania is characterized by a low level of safety compared to the better-performing countries.
According to SUMATRA report of 2017 on the improvement of road safety in Tanzania mainland, In the perspective of a relatively low number of registered vehicles (512,000 cars and 4-wheeled light vehicles, 86,000 trucks and 49,000 busses in 20148), the death rate in traffic accidents is high in Tanzania with up to 4,000 killed annually. In addition, there are 809,000 motorized 2- and 3-wheelers and 55,000 other vehicles. Road traffic injuries have become a global health and development problem. Research done around the globe including some African countries like Kenya indicates that road travel puts people at the greatest risk of injury. In developing countries, road crash rates remain high and Tanzania is no exception, as road accidents continue to cause untold suffering to families and rod the country of productive citizens (NRSC, 2016). Given the serious nature of road traffic injuries, various stakeholders on road safety had conducted road safety campaigns in the country. However, most of the empirical studies on road safety against mass media in promoting safety have been conducted in other countries, for example, Cameron et al, 2004 in Australia, Gitagama, 2014 Kenya, Mogambi and Nyakeri 2011 Kenya. In Tanzania, there was no study done on finding out the role of radio programs in promoting road safety.
Regardless of initiatives by various stakeholders to advance road safety in Tanzania the drift in deaths and injuries has been rising up to 2013. Since the SUMATRA conducted road safety study in 2007 been significant changes in the operational environment for example with the introduction of motorcycles on public transport in 2009 which have changed the road safety picture in Tanzania. The number of fatal road accidents, reported by the traffic police, was in 2013 amounting to 4,002, in 2014 amounting to 3,760 and in 2015 amounting to 3,468 (SUMATRA- IRSTM report,2017). According to the statistics provided by Tanzania Traffic Police, in 2016 the regions which have large figures of traffic incidents were Kinondoni (172,009), Ilala (122,344), Arusha (112,461), Temeke (107,010) and Morogoro (86,502). In Zanzibar, the region with the leading quantity of traffic incidents was Mjini Magharibi (6,764) and the regions with small numbers of incidents were Kaskazini Pemba (1,299) and Kaskazini Unguja (2,595).
In Tanzania Mainland, the region with the smallest number of incidents was Katavi (7,582). The report revealed that the trend of accidents in Tanzania increase compared to the previous time, it illustrates accidents statistics in Tanzania in the year 2016 shows that 266 died and injured 643 were drivers, 739 death and 1,866 injured were motorcyclists, cyclists 261 died and 242 injured. Also, statistics show 988 died and 4,593 injured were passengers while pedestrians were 975 died and 1,598 injured in road accidents. Apart from Tanzania at large, in Ilala district accidents seems to be a very big problem since they increase hence to cause loss of manpower, according to the statistics released by the Tanzania Traffic Police in the year 2016 there were 103 deaths out of 2,218 accidents, and 1,724 injuries. In line with this, the study attempts to investigate the impact of Safiri Salama radio program of TBC Taifa towards road traffic accidents as it is informative radio programs thus the study is going to measure the extent that they influence audiences as road users.
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