Friday July 18 2014

Cut accident deaths on Ugandan roads

Uganda risks fall back on its record as one of worst countries for road crashes unless the police and the public reverse the course. In only three days this week, at least 15 people, five of them students, were killed on the country’s roads.

There is more reason to worry because Arrive Alive Uganda, which works to lower road traffic deaths and injuries, estimates that more than 10,000 people will die on our roads over the next five years.

This is why the police should act to cut back the number of persons killed in road accidents. And it should be now.

This means the police must ensure motorists and cyclists respect traffic laws and consider other road users. As the Police Annual Road Safety Report for 2013 shows, at least 3,124 people were killed in 2012 and more 2,937 in 2013. This means 17 people are killed in every 100 accidents on our roads.

Statistics also show that the majority of road deaths are not of drivers but passengers and pedestrians.

As an example, of the 2,937 people killed in road accidents in 2013, at least 1,181 of them were pedestrians. Even earlier, the Uganda Police report for 2005/2006 indicates the deaths and injuries stood at 42 per cent for passengers, 33 per cent for pedestrians, and 14 per cent for cyclists.

Police must, therefore, enhance operations against motor cars because they are more involved in crashes than other classes of vehicles.

For instance, in 2011, at least 11,386 motor cars were involved in bangs up while more 10,058 were involved in 2012. Similarly, the police should mind the motorcycles and light omnibus vehicles as they are more prone to crashes.
Overall, the police should not handle major culprits of crashes softly because the report says human error accounted for 81.6 per cent of the knocks.

So reckless driving and speeding by incompetent drivers, some of whom also drive while drunk, must be stopped. This calls for education and enforcement of Traffic and Road Safety Act, 1998, to make Uganda’s roads safer.

However, the Express Penalty Scheme has not helped much in curbing traffic offenders. The police should push for amendment of the Traffic and Road Safety Act, 1998, to improve road safety and support effective enforcement.

Besides, improved road designs with adequate lanes to separate traffic and walkways should cut fatal crashes in heavy traffic flow and at night.
We must reduce the deaths on our roads as was between 2012 and 2013 – the highest drop in 11 years.
Motorists should also respect pedestrians’ right to safely use zebra crossings and road shoulders.