A six-minute video clip was recorded on CCTV cameras on the road and circulated on a number of social media platforms last week. What is however of great concern is that the footage shows occurrence of accidents at various locations caused by different factors, all within busy areas of Kololo, Entebbe, Lungujja and Katwe, among others.
In the second minute of the clip, at a certain junction in Kololo, a Kampala suburb, a motorist in a white Toyota Double Cabin Pick-up enters a four-way junction driving at a high speed, after overtaking a saloon Toyota Premio just few metres to the same junction. On realising that they were about to knock a pedestrian who had just crossed the road, the pick-up driver successfully swerves the pick-up to dodge the pedestrian.
Unfortunately, the motorist loses control of the car before it skidded and fell on its side on the opposite side of the road. It is evident that there was no need for driving at a high speed while approaching a junction.
Charles Ssebambulidde, the traffic directorate spokesperson weighs in on the matter, emphasising that at every urban centre or built up area, the prescribed speed limit is 50km/hour. This simply means that you should drive within zero to 50km/hour.
In the fourth minute of the clip at Abaita Ababiri on Entebbe Road in Wakiso District, a pedestrian crossing the road is knocked by a motorist driving a Toyota Spacio at a pedestrian crossing facility.
The victim is seen turning a number of times in the air after being hit by the car before landing on the tarmacked surface.
It is evident that the Spacio motorist was not able to understand that they were approaching a pedestrian crossing facility where they should have reduced speed. Besides, the presence of commuter taxis at the spot should also have alerted the motorist of pedestrians crossing the road at any time and therefore the need to reduce speed.
Sula Barigye, a motorcyclist operating in the city centre opines that some accidents in urban areas, especially Kampala and its suburbs are due to impatience by motorists.
“When a motorist is driving behind a motorcyclist and there is overtaking space ahead of them, they (motorist) will increase speed to a point of nearly knocking or pushing the motorcyclist off the road,” Barigye says.
While Barigye blames motorists for being impatient, Herman Kakande, a motorist reverses the blame to motorcyclists, reasoning: “Even in situations or areas where a motorcyclist sees a fast approaching car, they always want to overtake and race with a motorist instead of being patient and leave the vehicle to go first. Because a car does not brake instantly, sometimes it ends up knocking the motorcyclist,” Kakande explains.
Ssebambulidde strongly advises that regardless of whether you are a motorist or motorcyclist, you must exercise a high level of patience while on the road.
Ronnie Kyazze, the chairman of the Land Rover Uganda Club that promotes road safety under the cub’s TowardsZeroAccidents campaign, observes that road excitement among the youth is one of the leading causes of urban accidents.
“Young road users (between 25 and 34 years) are at a greater risk of being killed or injured as a result of collisions. This is because they are excited and drive at high speeds even in urban areas where they know that caution has to be taken,” Kyazze observes. “However fast the car you drive may be, it is safer to drive within the prescribed speed limit. When you go beyond the required limits, it is as good as digging your own grave and that of other innocent road users,” Kyazze cautions, noting that urban areas have a big road safety challenge due to high traffic volumes and nature of transport operations that subjects road users to accidents and injuries.
Another cause of increases accidents in urban areas are potholes. These can cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles or can damage car tyres. Potholes are frequently caused by excessive traffic in a specific area, as well as by heavy semi-trucks traveling on roads not designed to sustain such weight.
Disrespect for the law
Ssebambulidde also believes that lack of respect for traffic regulatory frameworks such as traffic lights and speed limit signs also accounts for urban accidents. “If traffic lights indicate that you stop, there is no reason for you to proceed. Traffic lights are put in place to regulate traffic flow,” Ssebambulidde says.
“Even if it is a one way or lane road and there is no vehicle coming from the oncoming traffic direction, use the lane or direction that is meant for your right direction to avoid accidents resulting from road abuse,” he concludes.
When driving in urban areas, always be on the lookout for:
Pedestrians: Cities are great places to walk and bike, and many pedestrians are a little more aggressive about crossing streets. This aggressiveness, combined with even the slightest lack of attentiveness on the part of the driver, can result in tragic pedestrian injuries.
Distractions: Many of the sights and sounds of a major city, while delightful to pedestrians, serve as distractions for drivers. A driver admiring a new building for example is not paying as much attention to the road as they should.
Circling drivers: That city streets are often clogged with traffic is not exactly a surprising claim. However, many drivers in downtown areas are trying to find one of the scarce parking spots available. They’ve often circled the block several times, and many of them are paying more attention to their search than to the roads. (sabre-roads.org.uk)