Reflection: Buckle up, slow down and don’t text or drink when driving…


According to the World Health Organization, road accidents are the leading cause of death of young people ages 15-29. Although our countries in general have many fewer cars, 40 of the 50 nations in the world with the highest road accident death rates are in Africa. These are grim statistics that we can change if we slow down and… let’s talk.

__What measures can we take to help improve the safety of our vehicles, roads, drivers, passengers, pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists?

Later this week is the UN World Day for Remembrance of Road Traffic Victims. Please do your part by sharing this information, especially with young people.

Most of you can probably #Imagine the top reasons for road accidents:

#1. Speeding.

#2. Distracted driving (for example, talking on a mobile phone, texting, eating or drinking…)

#3. Driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, even some prescription ones.

#4. Reckless and impatient driving.

#5. Animals and people crossing the road or walking alongside it.

#6. Ignoring road signs.

#7. Rain and fog.

#8. Running red lights and stop signs.

#9. Driving at night without due care.

#10. Changing lanes and turning unsafely, without indicating.

#11. Tailgating.

#12. Road rage.

#13. Potholes and other road infrastructure problems.

#14. Driver fatigue.

#15. Tire blow outs.

#16. Unsafe vehicles.

#17. Deadly curves.

#18. Street racing.

#19. Car design defects. (Rare problem, but it does happen).

An estimated 80% of car crashes are caused by distracted drivers, with the risk of an accident increasing:

# 3x when you are reading email or browsing the web while driving.

# 6x when texting behind the wheel.

# 9x when reaching for anything other than a phone while driving.

# 12x when making a call behind the wheel.

__Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for at least 4.6 seconds. At 88 KPH, that’s like driving the length of a football field, blindfolded!

Now there are a few simple things you (and your loved ones) all must do: Wear your seat belts and make sure your children get into this habit, too. If you ride a bike of any kind, wear a helmet. If road accidents do occur, these can literally make the difference between life and death.

To all of you innovators and inventors out there, what else can we do to keep our people safe on the roads? In taxis? On buses? What can we do to make things safer?

By now you all should know this but let’s help educate others: Do NOT drink and drive, or text and drive! Every 90 seconds a person is injured in a drunk driving crash…

Just don’t do it.

Instead, use a ride hailing company such as Vaya or any other such company, or ask a friend to give you a lift. #YourLifeTurnsOnThis!

Life is full of very tough choices, but this is not one of them.

God bless all of you. Stay safe on and near the roads.


by 21 Replies

About Strive Masiyiwa

Strive Masiyiwa is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet, a diversified global telecommunications group with operations and investments in over 15 countries. His business interests also include renewable energy, financial services, media and hospitality. Masiyiwa serves on a number of international boards, including Unilever, Rockefeller Foundation, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Global Advisory Board, the Africa Progress Panel, the UN Secretary General's Advisory Board for Sustainable Energy, Morehouse College, Hilton Foundation's Humanitarian Prize Jury and the Kenjin-Tatsujin International Advisory Council. He is one of the founders, with Sir Richard Branson, of the global think tank, the Carbon War Room, and a founding member of the Global Business Coalition on Education. Masiyiwa took over the Chairmanship of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) from Kofi Annan. He is also Chair of the Micronutrient Initiative, a global organization focused on ending child hunger and improving nutrition. In 2012, Masiyiwa was invited by President Obama to address leaders at the Camp David G-8 Summit on how to increase food production and end hunger in parts of Africa. In 2014, Masiyiwa was selected to Fortune Magazine’s list of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders”. As a philanthropist, he is a member of the Giving Pledge, and his contributions to education, health and development have been widely recognized. Masiyiwa and his wife finance the Higher Life Foundation, which provides scholarships to over 42,000 African orphans. In 2015, he was the recipient of the International Rescue Committee’s Freedom Award and was presented with a UN Foundation Global Leadership Award for the work of the Africa Against Ebola Solidarity Trust, which he chairs and helped establish to fund the deployment of African healthcare workers to combat the outbreak in West Africa.

21 thoughts on “Reflection: Buckle up, slow down and don’t text or drink when driving…

  1. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 1.

    My deep condolences to the families and victims of the horrible crash last week in Zimbabwe that killed 46 people including five children and injured scores more, and also to those who lost loved ones in another terrible bus crash last month in Kenya that killed 50. There have been so many tragedies on our roads across the continent. Let us each do what we can to help, right where we are, including sharing this post.

  2. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 3.

    Although Africa has a high number of incidents, road accidents are a global tragedy putting our young people at risk, especially young male drivers.The WHO has developed a road safety technical package for decision-makers and others working to reduce road traffic deaths and injuries, and achieve related Sustainable Development Goals. Some of you will want to look it over. Much is already known about how to tackle this problem!

  3. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    In Africa, we are all too willing to accept certain things which happen around us with a resignation of fatalism:
    This is how things are supposed to be!


    Personally I do not believe in Fate [which comes from an ancient Greek religious belief]

    Too many people die needlessly on our roads, particularly young people. We can and must do something about it.

  4. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    #You “see” only those things that matter to you!

    Yesterday Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, published an “abridged circular” to its shareholders giving them 21 days notice to an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM).
    In it they are proposing to “spin off” 80% of Cassava Smartech Zimbabwe. If approved by the shareholders the company [CSZ] will be Listed By Introduction on the Stock Exchange. By market value it could be one of the largest listings in Africa this year, and the largest ever on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange since 1896!

    Now here is the thing, I want you to think about:
    I was in Singapore, and some guy called me about it from Canada waking me up! “I’m looking at the circular you just published” he began.
    I was not even sure how he got my number.
    “This is huge! Is this a Fintech?! Wow!”
    “Please talk to your broker. I’m sleeping!”

    I had to switch off the phone because I knew calls would come in from London, Johannesburg, New York. The places where people follow money!

    Later I spoke to a friend in Harare, he was excited about all the politics, in the country…then I asked him, “did you read the circular our guys published today?”
    “What circular?” He asked, surprised.
    “It was in all the national newspapers, and is more than 10 full pages.”

    Then I quipped:
    “If Brazil was coming to play our national team, would you know?”
    “Yes, I would!”

    “Well in the world of business this is bigger than Brazil coming to Zimbabwe!”

    How many people on this platform saw and read that circular?

    Let me tell you nothing, but nothing of note happens in Africa’s markets that I don’t make it my business to know. I might miss what happened in Europa League last night, but woe is me, if I don’t know about Africa’s business landscape!
    That is how you must approach things as well, as a member of this platform.

  5. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    When I was a young man living in Harare, my job entailed long distance travel every week. Being the breadwinner of my entire family I vowed to stay alive:
    I lost two of my best friends to car accidents that were so horrific it bothers me to this day. I watched their parents plunged into total and abject poverty. It was always about my family rather than myself. Think about your family and those you leave behind.

    Here are some of my personal precautions:
    #1. I never undertook a journey by car at night. There was nothing that could persuade me to travel at night, not even a funeral. If I was going anywhere I travelled early in the morning, but if it got dark I looked for somewhere to sleep.
    The probability of an accident increases dramatically when you travel [particularly between towns] during the night.

    #2. I never travelled above 100km/ hr. I needed a speed which enabled me to park to the side easily.
    I was known by my friends for being a slow driver.
    The chances of a head on collision is reduced if one of the cars is traveling at less than 100km/hr.

    #3. I never repaired my car, I maintained it. I never let a car breakdown, because it meant I was not maintaining it. Remember I’m a trained engineer in my thinking.

    If you are regularly repairing something, it means you are not maintaining it properly.

    The state of vehicles is #1 cause of accidents, followed by the quality of roads.

    #4. Even in the city, I never drove after 10pm. I grounded myself at 10pm, even if it meant sleeping in the office.
    After 10pm, the number of drivers impaired by alcohol increases. One of my friends was killed by a car that just drove into him whilst he was at a stop sign.

    #5. I never travelled by car during public holidays. I did not take journeys to rural areas, or anywhere. I always stayed at home.
    If I planned to go somewhere, I left before the actual holiday started and returned before it ended.
    The statistics of road carnage during public holidays across Africa, are completely off the charts.

    #6. I never had a problem with drinking, because I don’t drink. I’m not saying you should not drink, I’m just telling you that I don’t drink. You do with your life what you think best.
    This speaks for itself.

    I would like your comments on why I came up with each of these principles.

  6. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Irene writes,

    It really pains me when I am subjected to this dangerous driving by these selfish drivers who don’t care about others, breaking every rule of the road.

    My reply,
    It never stops to stagger me how many people do not take “mandatory third party insurance” in Africa. More than 50% of the cars are uninsured. This endangers the lives of others.
    All Vaya drivers have to hold Comprehensive insurance, and we automatically ensure all passengers separately.
    We are working on installing voice recorders and even cameras in all the vehicles. Currently we have a [Cumi Connected Car] tracking device installed in each car which enables us to check the speed and even braking of the car.

  7. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Runyararo Mherekumombe writes:

    Your goals resonate with mine. I lost a brother to an accident, they were coming from drinking at night, the people were too drunk to notice what happened, when they came around they said he walked away from the wreckage, for close to 2 months he would not be found, he had no ID until someone alerted us of an unidentified body at Parirenyatwa hospital. It was terrible uncertainty for the family. I always ensure the following:

    1. I take the safest public vehicle even if it means waiting for a while. I have seen the general state of vehicles on Zimbabwe roads is frightening, add the terrible road maintenance then it is a death trap. I feel for those who travel with light vehicles across the border, dicing with death right there.
    2. I do my business during daytime, night time is really a problem to move around.
    3. When going to Zimbabwe I check the track record of bus companies, the professionalism the better for me. I have seen people in some terrible buses that is overloaded and ask myself if a holiday is worth that much.
    4. Being introvert I always try to do things where there are less crowds this means having my holiday in November then stay at home in December. I saw our Group CEO takes his holiday in November then works throughout December on the following year’s stuff. He gets to work with little disturbance, I thought that was genius.

    I believe most problems of mobility in Africa are worsened by poor organisation, haulage and light vehicles on the same roads is bound to cause problems. I see big opportunities in this area and working flat out to seize the moment until we can guarantee safety of travellers. I have seen families plunge into chaos are death of a bread winner, I missed death by a whisker in a bus accident in 2015 so the battle for safe mobility is deeply personal.

    My Reply:

    Runyararo Mherekumombe ,
    Thank you sharing this painful experience. It will help many other people.
    God bless you.

  8. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    #Entrepreneurship opportunities,

    Making traveling safer, and more secure presents an extraordinary opportunity for entrepreneurs of the future.
    The opportunities are almost limitless. There are small ways you can get in, as well as big things you can do.

    I would like to hear from you about anything you are doing in this space.

  9. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Noble writes,

    A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions, but an unthinking person will walk right into it and regret it later. I too am taking certain precautions this day. Thank you Sir

    My reply,
    I agree with you entirely.
    There are countries around the world that have systematically put in place well thought through policies on road safety, and have built a culture of compliance. The result is these countries even though they have more cars, and drive in either heavy rain, or snow, have remarkably fewer accidents than what we see in some African countries.
    It is well within our power to reduce motor vehicle fatalities.
    Now what happens when governments don’t take this up?
    Do we shrug our shoulders, or simply sit on our hands?
    We take individual responsibility and do something [no matter how small] to safeguard the lives of our own families and friends.
    I wrote this Post with the knowledge that many of you are still young and extremely mobile. Now if I can save just one life, I will surely have done good this day.

  10. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    The late Shah of Iran once said:
    “Oil is too valuable to burn”.
    When you think of the remarkable products we get from oil, burning it is such a waste!
    As an engineer I have always hated the internal combustion engine [petrol], and I look forward to the day in less than 25 years when there will be very few cars that use petrol and diesel, as all cars become electric.

  11. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    #One more thing!

    Owning a car is an amazing source of personal freedom. And yet in many countries which do not produce oil the percentage of foreign exchange spent on supporting this freedom comes at a remarkable and unsustainable cost to development:
    The foreign exchange which could be allocated to things like medicines and raw materials for industry, often finds its way to transport as a first priority.
    Now if each one of us living in Africa, were to consciously and voluntarily cut out unnecessary trips we could make room for sustainable economic development.

    #7 to my list:
    Before undertaking a trip, I would always ask myself the question:

    “Is this really, really necessary?”
    It was not just a question on safety. I always had in mind that the fuel I spent could easily be medicines in hospitals.


    Let’s talk about some of these things.

  12. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Prince writes,

    I cycle on most of my short distances and on weekends as well. I drive my car when with family and friends and when commuting to work. In short i have some journeys reserved for cycling and some for driving. It keeps me healthy while reducing pollution. Not forgetting how it saves my car and my money.

    My reply,
    I commend you greatly.

    A few weeks ago I visited Denmark for the very first time. The first thing that strikes you is the number of people who uses bicycles. They proudly told me that they have “more bicycles per capita than the Dutch”.
    Now here is a country with a GDP per capita of $57K, making it one of the richest countries in the world.
    They have promoted cycling, and made it easy for anyone to ride a bicycle safely. And here we are in Africa with our poor economies, all yearning for cars.
    Unfortunately we have persuaded ourselves that a bicycle is a symbol of poverty.

    I love bicycle riding, and for many years I used to go on holiday to the only African country you can safely ride a bicycle, and for weeks I would just ride around [incognito] on my bike!
    When I was young [in my twenties and thirties] I had a bicycle in Harare.

    Those who manage our cities could do much to encourage cycling by making it safer. And we could do much to help change attitudes.

  13. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Blessing writes,

    Strive Masiyiwa let’s walk more! We often use cars even when not necessary!

    My reply,
    When I lived in Harare I would always walk if I wanted to get anywhere within the city limits.
    Whenever I’m in New York, I will walk upto 10km per day getting to meetings. Most people there walk. I once bumped into Henry Kissinger walking [when he was younger]. You meet some of the top business and political leaders walking.
    Your generation needs to shift attitudes on things like walking in our towns and cities. It will promote well being, as well as save millions in foreign exchange.

  14. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Makata writes,

    And this increases my worry about a school close to me where I see school pupils struggle to cross over a very busy road every two times a day. I’ve always wanted to do something about it… I even made enquiry about how much a pedestrian bridge (flyover) would cost, but I’m not ready yet for such a project.

    Now I’m thinking of employing someone to take care of these little children by crossing them safely – until I can build the pedestrian flyover. This is a dream, and it’s a disturbing one troubling my mind each day I walk past the road. This post is a knock on the head, a wake up call. Thanks Chief for this.

    My reply,
    If you don’t do something about it, one day you will never forgive yourself!
    There is something you can do, and it does not have to be expensive.
    In the UK there are tens of thousands of retired people who volunteer daily to go and help children cross the road after school. We call them the “Lollipop man”.
    It is totally voluntary but it began when one concerned person like you felt the tug of the Lord.

    You don’t need anyone’s permission. You can do it tomorrow!

    Hire someone to help your children [each child is your child]

  15. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Mpho writes,

    Please forgive me if I am out of the topic, but Sir let me qoute this last part that got me wondering. “it will promote well being, as well as save millions in foreign Exchange” sir how does that work.? Is there a deeper meaning in this. I mean for me the moment I saw “save millions foreign currency” my brain automatically switches to country’s economy and now am thinking how does that work.

    My reply,
    If a country generates $1bn in foreign exchange earnings [through exports of agricultural commodities, mineral exports, and others including remittances]
    If that country uses $500m (50%) to import just one product: Petrol and diesel for motor vehicles. You don’t have to be a Nobel Laureate Economists to know that you are going to have a massive foreign exchange crisis, which pushes up the exchange rate, as everything else competes for the other $500m!
    Medicines, machinery imports, raw materials for factories etc.

    Mpho, I don’t know what country you are from[although I think it’s SA from our previous interactions] Let me say this:
    The Africa we all want to see will come at a price, which many of us are simply not prepared to pay, either as leaders or citizens.

  16. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    The cost of bread in Zimbabwe!

    Let me put the proverbial “cat amongst the pigeons”:
    A loaf of bread in SA costs R9:50.
    It costs R30 in Zimbabwe!

    80% of imported goods in Zimbabwe come from SA. It is not uncommon to find those same goods costing anything above 3x the cost.
    The people who pay for a lot of goods are Zimbabweans living in SA, through their remittances.
    The cost structure [labour and goods] in Zimbabwe is distorted by the “arbitrage of the United States dollar, as a currency of settlement for Rand imports.”
    If everyone in Zimbabwe quoted their customers for goods and services in SA Rands, it would go a some way to eliminating the Dollar Arbitrage. This is not the same thing as joining a Rand Monetary Area, or Customs Union which is a much more complex process.

    This one can be done overnight, and even voluntarily.

    Zimbabweans living in SA, that send remittances could also demand price parity in Rands.
    It would improve quality of life for our families and also improve general liquidity.

    Don’t get me wrong, this is not what you have to do to fix Zimbabwe’s economic woes…that is a whole different story…

  17. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Prosperous Joseph writes,

    I sent a mail to Africainvest,asking them how to trade stock in Zimbabwe Stock Exchange. They gave me list of the brokerage firms. Most of them require a minimum deposit of $1,000 .
    The challenge is, the trading is not real time but the old style of calling the broker to execute trade.

    Since am from Nigeria, I will see to it. I want to have your company stock in my portfolio so I can transfer it to my kids.

    My reply,
    Sadly this is how we enforce an elitist system right across Africa.
    There is nothing stops these guys from creating mechanisms that allow ordinary people to participate in this or any other exchange in Africa.
    Years ago, we offered the ZSE an interest free loan to completely revamp their system. They turned it down.

    1 John 5:4
    “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”

    Unless you learn to receive good, you will never recognize it, even when it is to your own benefit.

  18. prince tsikira

    Thank you Sir for the Dont text and Drive message its a very much life claiming issue of concern on our roads . We have been working on a robust research for Zimbabwe and some Southern African countries to really measure how this problem can be adressed and as an assocation we would love to put through our input to this sad trajectrory. Lets Save a Life for A Brighter Tomorrow!


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