Road carnage: Let us return to basics
Posted Thursday, August 2 2012 at 01:00
The rate at which road accidents are claiming lives is worrying. At the weekend, at least 13 people died in three separate motor accidents. On Friday night eight members of a family were killed on Pakwach Road near Murchison Falls National Park. In another accident, the wife of State Minister for Information Communication Technology Nyombi Tembo was killed in head-on-collision at Bwebajja, Entebbe Road, on Saturday.
During a funeral service for the minister’s wife, Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi asked police to enforce traffic rules and regulations to reduce accidents.
Uganda has numerous traffic regulations in place including; mandatory periodic inspection of vehicles for road worthiness, licensing of driving schools and driver instructors, and implementation of driving school curriculum and examination.
However, the situation on the ground is a clear indication that road safety is not taken seriously by motorists and law enforcers! The government may do its part to reduce road carnage by improving the road infrastructure but well planned roads are just part of the solution. Streamlining traffic procedures by ensuring that Ugandan drivers actually know what they are doing remains a challenge.
Improving driver education should, therefore, be incorporated in the government’s wider effort to improve the country’s entire transport sector.
While it is right to attribute accident fatalities to narrow, poorly planned roads, a World Bank funded Road Safety Audit and Improvement study attributes about 80 per cent of road accidents to human error such as reckless driving, speeding, inconsiderate use of the road, careless or ignorant pedestrians, incompetent drivers and driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
And, unlike in Kampala where the roads are in deplorable state, the country’s highways are better and yet fatal accidents continue to be registered on them. By implications, most of the accidents are mainly the fault of drivers and drivers thus bear bigger responsibility for road safety.
As we demand that the government improves the road infrastructure, every motorist must go back to the basics and learn how to drive, not merely move a car. Enforcing traffic regulations must go hand in hand with focus on driver behaviour, starting with basics like what the Highway Code contains.