The absence of police on the country’s roads has left individuals, corporates and insurance companies exposed to serious risks caused by flouting of regulations by unlicensed cars and drivers as well as unregistered and uninsured vehicles, an industry expert has said.
Since Operation Restore Legacy, police presence on the country’s roads has been reduced drastically but the result has been an increase in motorists flagrantly flouting traffic rules and regulations.
Insurance expert and NicoDiamond managing director Grace Muradzikwa, told Business Weekly the absence of police on the roads and the increased number of accidents is a cause for concern and there is urgent need for police to come back.
“As an industry some of the observation that we are making and especially coming from the claims and how some of these accidents are happening, generally flouting of general road regulations. There is just a general flouting, because everybody knows that there is no one to police, “ she said.
Flouting of road rules
Muradzikwa said the presence of police on the roads had resulted in a significant reduction in flouting of regulations because road users knew there was police.
“But now even as you drive you can see people texting while they are driving. The second thing is that we have seen a noticeable increase in unregistered vehicles on the road, cars which do not have number plates. The reason why we put number plates is to identify vehicles.”
Muradzikwa said without number plates it will be difficult to attach ownership to a motor vehicle in the event of an accident.
“We have also seen an increase in hit and run accidents and this will result in an increase in fraudulent claims because people cannot attach ownership to the motor vehicle involved,” said Muradzikwa.
She said the issue of unregistered vehicles was very insignificant before.
“People would hesitate before they took an unregistered vehicle on the road, but now you see them all over the place.”
“What we are saying as an (insurance) industry is that police must do their law enforcement as their presence helps as a deterrent. We are not saying that lets go back to where things were before (when police were going beyond their law enforcement duties and harassing motorists).”
“Police have a role to play because we have laws, which need to be monitored. Our laws here are very clear. An uninsured and unlicensed vehicle should not be on the road. But now there is no monitoring and no enforcement,” said Muradzikwa.
She said apart from loss of lives and injuries, the chaos on the roads had also meant the licensing of vehicles had also gone down.
“What that means is that one would be involved in an accident and only to be told that it was an unlicensed, unregistered and uninsured vehicle. There is absolutely no protection.
“While on one hand members of the public might be happy that there is no police, they must also know that in terms of personal protection some of these laws are there to protect all road users.”
We are all exposed as claims shoot up
“But when the laws are not being monitored and enforced, it is exposing us. We are all exposed as road users,” said Muradzikwa.
She said every time one goes on the road, one has a liability to others as anything can happen, and that’s why third party licensing is compulsory.
“The moment you decide you are taking your car on the road, there are very serious risks, from personal injuries, damage to high value vehicles, or running someone over. We only think about it until something happens, but without police to monitor and enforce chances of getting recourse are minimal.”
Muradzikwa said her company NicozDiamond, which is the largest in the short term insurance sector, had recorded a 30 percent increase in the number of motor vehicle claims.
She said an increase in the number of claims also points to risk rerating and a possible increase in premiums.
“So everything comes back to all of us as we are even exposed to high premiums as a result of the risk rerating,” she said.
“As a company we have also seen an increase in the number of claims by 15 percent and then in terms of size of claims (cost of repairs) we have seen a 28 percent increase in average size of motor claims, “ said Muradzikwa.
“So on the face of it we are all exposed. Its ok when we talk about these issues until it hits you at a personal level.”
Police have a national duty
She said the police has a national duty to police and enforce the laws.
“We have laws around driving habits, laws around how we use our roads and what it takes to drive and put a car on the road.”
She said if we are all going to be flouting these laws we are exposing ourselves.
“These are some of the things that we think if maybe the police were on the roads, it will certainly help us.”
Muradzikwa however applauded the police for some of the initiatives in trying to control and direct traffic.
“Credit must go to them for the small steps and we are happy about it.”