What you need to know:
The second Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030 was proclaimed in UN Resolution A/RES/74/299 on Improving Global Road Safety with a target to reduce road deaths and serious injuries by 50 percent by 2030. Roland D. Nasasira discusses in detail why road safety is everyone’s responsibility.
In February 2020, the Ministry of Works and Transport took part in the third Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety in Stockholm, Sweden. The meeting led to the Stockholm Declaration, which was tabled before the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in September 2020.
As such, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on “Improving global road safety,” proclaiming the second Decade of Action for road safety 2021-2030, with a target of preventing 50 per cent of road traffic deaths and injuries by 2030. It should be noted that the first Decade of Action for Road Safety run from 2011 to 2020.
The World Health Organisation and the UN regional commissions and partners in the UN Road Safety Collaboration thus developed the global plan for the second Decade of Action that Uganda received on October 28.
The resolutions encouraged member states, including Uganda, to make efforts to ensure the safety and protection of all road users through safer road infrastructure by taking into account the needs of motorised and non-motorised transport.
There is also need to ensure the safety of vulnerable road users through a combination of proper planning and safety assessment, including identification of crash-prone areas, design, construction and maintenance of roads, signal systems and other infrastructure, taking into consideration the needs of all road users.
The global plan is the guiding document for countries to achieve global road safety targets and facilitate coordination and concerted action towards achieving the global goals. It emphasises a holistic approach to road safety and continuous improvement in the design of roads and vehicles, enhancement and enforcement of laws and timely, life-saving post-crash care. It also highlights policies that promote health and protect the environment.
Globally, three deaths occur every minute due to road traffic crashes. Road traffic injuries are the leading killer of people aged five to 29 years and kill more people than tuberculosis and HIV/Aids, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Representative, Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam.
In the Ugandan context, the number of deaths on roads remains unacceptably high, with an estimated 12,249 crashes reported in 2020, according to the Annual Police Crime Report 2020. The report further points out that road traffic injuries are now the leading cause of death of children aged five and 14 years, and young adults between the ages of 15 and 29, the biggest percentage of the Ugandan population.
“More than half of all road traffic deaths are among vulnerable road users, especially pedestrians, passengers, cyclists and motorcyclists,” the report partly reads.
According to Mr Woldemariam, the African region has the highest death rates due to road traffic crashes of 26.6 per 100,000, and yet the region has only one per cent of the number of vehicles in the world, compared to Europe. In Uganda, 28.9 per 100,000 population deaths occur annually, exceeding the 24.1 per 100,000 population for the African region.
“Uganda loses 10 people every day in road traffic accidents, which is the highest rate in East Africa. Uganda loses Shs4.4 trillion which accounts for five per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) due to road traffic injury deaths annually,” Woldemariam says.
Winstone Katushabe, the commissioner Transport Regulation and Safety at the Ministry of works and transport strongly argues that one of the challenges of road safety is human behaviour. For example, he says, there are those who think they can overtake 10 vehicles at once and actually go ahead and do it, leading to accidents and death.
“The process of formulating stringent and tough road regulations to apply to all road users, especially motorists is underway. Should you make any mistake as a motorist and overtake and anything happens, it will be solely your responsibility. If it is a government vehicle or one belonging to any government parastatal, the driver is responsible for the crash and its effects. You will be arraigned before courts of law and charged accordingly,” Katushabe warns.
Some of the measures that have contributed to a reduction in road traffic deaths in 48 middle and high-income countries include better legislation on key risks such as speeding, drink-driving avoidance, seatbelt usage, motorcycle helmets and child restraints. Others include safer infrastructure such as sidewalks and dedicated lanes for cyclists and motorcyclists, improved vehicle standards and enhanced post-crash care.
If everyone participates in addressing the issue of road safety by watching out how they behave when seated behind the steering wheel, including avoiding phone usage, how every pedestrian should be cautious and careful when crossing the road, it is possible to halve road crashes in the country by 50 per cent.
It is all about being considerate and caring for other road users. To avoid speeding, especially in places with high traffic volumes such as Kampala, it is better to plan and start your journey early not only to avoid being caught on the wrong side of the law but also prevent death caused by speeding.
Studying the rules of the road
The next thing we should review from time to time is the rules of the road, as well as what the traffic signs and signals mean. If you are constantly emphasising the rules and signs while you are driving, whether you are on a short commute or long road trip, this will keep the rules at the front of your mind. If you are doing this, you can then point out the signs or ask them questions to ensure they aren’t just listening, but maintaining the information, and reward them when they get the answer right! If they get the answer wrong, take the opportunity to educate them again on the rules, and ask them if they have any questions to ensure clarity for next time.
For some people, accidents are bound to happen and there is nothing we can do about them. No matter how careful you are or how good a driver you think you are, there is a driver out there who may not be as careful.
Check your car before driving
It is important that you check your car brakes, lights, leaks, coolant, fluids, and oil levels. In short, check your car’s roadworthiness.
Keep your eyes on the road. Do not use your phone, try to change CDs or pick up something on the floor. Those things can wait, but if it is urgent, try to pull over and do the necessary things you need to do.
Never drink and drive
Follow the traffic rules, road signage and speed limits. .
There are a lot of arrogant and aggressive drivers on the road. Ignore them.