With more than 20 people dying in road accidents between Christmas Eve and Boxing Day, and 70 drivers arrested for violating traffic regulations during the same period last year, it is not surprising that every festive season, police issues warnings to motorists against reckless driving. During a media briefing on Wednesday, police spokesperson Emilian Kayima said police would arrest drivers and cyclists who will be found in violation of stipulated traffic regulations. He emphasised that as the festive season approaches, police have finalised plans to intensify Fika Salaama operations on highways, specifically to apprehend motorists without necessary driving documents and impound vehicles in poor mechanical state.
Uganda’s road accident records over the years attribute most road crashes to human error. Cases recorded by police between 2010 and 2017 indicate that careless driving tops the list with 27,373 accidents, followed by dangerous driving with 24,938. This explains why police places a lot of emphasis on reckless driving, speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, as well as overloading.
Human error led to a record 56,565 accidents in the country in only eight years. The accidents have claimed more than 25,430 lives, and a total of 115,519 casualties. This is despite traffic police presence on major accident roads. Efforts to reduce road accidents, therefore, go beyond policing motorists. It requires individual drivers to be responsible.
The annual festive season warnings by police, however well intentioned, will thus not yield results if motorists continue to engage in reckless behaviour. It is futile to remind motorists and other road users to take extra care to ensure safety and security of persons and goods along the highways. Motorists already know that! What is lacking is discipline and strict enforcement of penalties, which leads to many errant drivers going scot-free. Some of them give bribes to avoid fines and prosecution.
There are basic traffic regulations that motorist are required to abide by but as Kayima stated, the festive season comes with a lot of excitement and drivers end up causing accidents often resulting in deaths and injuries. This, he says, is the reason police get tougher around Christmas to ensure road users are safe.
In the next few weeks, several Ugandans will be travelling to the countryside to enjoy the holiday season with their families. Many of them will be using buses that ply our major highways. As police have repeatedly emphasised, this happens to be a period when they register high rate of accidents.
As we appeal to traffic police to ensure motorists respect basic traffic guidelines such as speed limits, motorists must realise that guaranteeing road safety starts with them.
The issue: Road safety
Our view: As we appeal to traffic police to ensure motorists respect basic traffic guidelines such as speed limits, motorists must realise that guaranteeing road safety starts with them.