Early last week a reader – Liz Kibalama – wrote through an email, appreciating the work we do but at the same time wondering why we have not written about some subjects.
“You wrote a good piece in [Daily Monitor of March 1 – Driving habits you must drop] but don’t you think you ought to address traffic rules and proper driving to help curb the immeasurable deaths on roads?” her email reads in part.
Rightly, the reader raised pertinent issues but in the same measure we have variously written about these issues – in a different way though.
However, there is one area that we need to tackle - traffic guidelines – a key aspect that is abused by many motorists either knowingly or unknowingly.
In this regard we shall pick out particular areas that suffer abuse presenting serious dangers to drivers and other road users. These include:
Every section of the road has a particular speed limit that should be observed by all drivers.
For instance, according to Kampala Capital City Authority, all roads within the city centre should not exceed 30 kilometres per hour while roads that connect to highways have a speed limit of 50 kilometres per hour.
Highways have a speed limit ranging between 50 and 100 kilometres per hour, according to the Traffic and Road Safety Regulations, 2004.
Road sections on highways that are considered black spots, have a speed limit of 50 kilometres per hour while those that are less dangerous have a limit of between 80 and 100 kilometres per hour.
In other words, Uganda has a minimum speed limit of 30 kilometres per hour and a maximum of 100 kilometres per hour.
Failure to observe the limits exposes a driver to a penalty of between Shs300,000 and Shs1.2m and or imprisonment of between six months and two years.
Driving a DMC
Driving a car that is classified as DMC (dangerous mechanical condition) is punishable under the Traffic and Road Safety regulations.
This is one traffic regulation that is grossly abused and many vehicles currently on Ugandan roads are DMCs. This category, under the Traffic and Road Safety Regulations, also includes other offences such as overloading, which attracts a cash fine of between Shs300,000 and Shs1.2m or imprisonment of not less than six months or more than two years.
Overloading, according to Uganda National Road Authority regulations, is largely discouraged because of its adverse effect on the road infrastructure.
“Overloading is a danger not only to human life but to the road infrastructure and must be fought in the best way possible,” says JB Kabanda, a driving instructor.
Driving under the influence
Traffic police has been vigilant in the fight against drunk-driving and a number of people have fallen victims.
The campaign, nicknamed Kawunyemu, was launched in 2014 and has been running since at certain intervals of the year on different roads within and beyond Kampala.
Driving under the influence of alcohol is punishable under the Traffic and Road Safety Regulations with a penalty of between Shs300,000 and Shs1.2m or imprisonment of between six months and two years.
Using an unlicensed vehicle
According to Kabanda, this is one of the most popular traffic offences that cuts across the country.
“Many motorists drive unlicensed or non-insured cars, which is a serious offence under the traffic guidelines,” he says.
This offence attracts a cash fine of between Shs200,000 and Shs600,000 or imprisonment of between one and two years.
This includes driving in the manner that endangers other road users.
Such driving, under the Traffic and Road Safety Regulations, is classified as abuse of road guidelines and attracts a cash fine of between Shs1.2m and Shs1.8m or imprisonment of between two and three years.
More traffic offences and their penalties
Driving without a permit
Many motorists drive without permits even when they have them while others just don’t have or they have been disqualified for various reasons.
This is a serious traffic offence that attracts a cash fine of between Shs600,000 and Shs3 or a prison term of between one and five years.
Failing to report an accident
Many motorists will just drive by an accident scene. This is an offence that is committed either knowingly or unknowingly.
“Many people do not know they are obliged, under the traffic guidelines, to stop or report an accident. They just drive by even when it is a fatal accident. Many of them are just not aware while others are discouraged” says JB Kabanda, a driving instructor.
The offence attracts a cash fine of between Shs100,000 and Shs600,000.