What you need to know:
According to the Uganda Police Annual Crime Report 2020, accidents that involve pedestrians usually occur as they try to cross the roads.
During a recent stakeholders meeting organised by the Ministry of Works and Transport and hosted by Safeway Right Way Uganda to draft the National Road Safety Action Plan, it was noted that on average, Uganda loses at least 10 people per day due to road crashes. According to the Uganda Police Annual Crime Report 2020, this is more pronounced among pedestrians and motorcyclists as the most vulnerable category of road users.
“Accidents that involve pedestrians usually occur as they try to cross the roads. In some cases, pedestrians fall victim when vehicles veer off the road and knock them. Other accidents occur when a driver trying to avoid collision with another vehicle ends up hitting pedestrians,” the report partly says.
The report adds that pedestrians comprise the largest category of road users killed in road crashes, accounting for 34 per cent of fatalities while motorcyclists account for 31 per cent of fatalities. A total of 1,258 pedestrians were killed in road crashes in 2020 compared to 1,485 who died in road crashes in 2019. A total of 1,146 motorcyclists were killed in road crashes in 2020 compared to the 1,064 killed in 2019.
The overall annual cost of road crashes is currently estimated at approximately Shs4.4t, representing five per cent of Uganda’s gross domestic product, which is a huge cost for a developing country such as Uganda.
On a general note, the report says, 3,269 crashes were fatal, 5,803 were serious and 3,177 were minor. Fatal crashes reduced by 4.1 per cent while serious crashes reduced by 3.2 per cent and minor crashes reduced by 8.2 per cent.
According to the Police Annual Traffic Report, the irony to this situation is that these crashes are avoidable on account of casual factors such as reckless driving, speeding, overloading, dangerous loading, driving under the influence of alcohol, careless pedestrians, careless driving, passenger falls from vehicles, obstacles on carriage way and dangerous mechanical condition vehicles, among others.
Even in April 2020, when the country was under a total lockdown with restricted vehicle movement, there were 470 road crashes registered, followed by May with 631 crashes. This means that even with fewer vehicles on the road, road crashes are bound to happen. The month of December 2020 had the highest number of crashes with 1,445, followed by October with 1,328 crashes and September with 1,270 crashes.
Much as there was a 4.7 per cent reduction in the number of crashes reported in 2020 from 12,858 crashes reported in 2019 to 12,249 crashes reported in 2020, Winstone Katushabe, the commissioner of transport regulation and safety in the Ministry of Works and Transport, says reducing road crash incidents starts from the way a motorist drives or behaves every time they are behind the steering wheel.
“When driving, assume you are the only sensible driver on the road and the rest do not know what they are doing. The decisions you make should be for your safety and that of other road users,” Katushabe says.
Besides pedestrians and motorcyclists, passengers also constitute a large number of persons killed at 25 per cent, which is equivalent to 894 victims. These deaths, the report says, can be attributed to the higher representation of passengers carried in vehicles compared to drivers. One vehicle can carry as many as 60 passengers and in the event of an accident, passengers constitute the highest number of fatalities.
Drivers constituted five per cent (182) of all fatalities on roads and these occurred under several circumstances including head-on collisions. Drivers may hit road side infrastructure as a result of veering off the road while drivers are also killed when vehicles overturn, especially after losing control.
Bicycles are a common means of transport, especially in rural areas, used to transport both goods and passengers. However, the key concern is that most Ugandan roads including those within different cities do not have dedicated lanes for cyclists, making pedal cyclists vulnerable to accidents involving motor vehicles. In 2020, pedal cyclists accounted for five per cent (183) of all fatalities countrywide.
Serious and minor injuries
Apart from victims who died in road crashes in 2020, the number of persons seriously injured in 2020 increased by 13.1 per cent from 6,635 in 2019 to 8,370 in 2020. Passengers constituted the highest number of persons seriously injured accounting for 35 per cent (2,948), followed by motor cyclists at 34 per cent (2,883), pedestrians at 18 per cent (1,511), drivers at eight per cent (667) and pedal cyclists at four per cent (361).
The report adds that 979 persons sustained minor injuries in 2020 as compared to 1,175 people in 2019, reflecting a 17 per cent reduction. However, passengers on motorcycles who sustained minor injuries increased from 60 in 2019 to 180 in 2020.
Victims by gender, age
The distribution shows that more men die in road crashes compared to women. In 2020, the report states, the proportion of men killed in crashes was 80 per cent compared to women at 20 per cent. The same trend is reflected in all the age brackets.
This could be mainly attributed to the fact that men are more likely to engage in dangerous road user behaviour than women road users.
“They (males) are likely to speed, drink and drive as compared to females and men are mainly the breadwinners and often use the road to move to and from various places which increases the risk of being involved in collisions,” the report says.
More fatalities were recorded for persons below 35 years of age and these accounted for 57 per cent of all fatalities. This could partly be attributed to the fact that the highest proportion of Uganda’s population is young. This bracket also includes school going children. It also includes the youth who are actively engaged in various productive activities to earn a living, and those at university. Few fatalities were recorded for persons aged above 75 years of age at two per cent.