Road safety begins with you the user

Joe Walker (R) arrives in Mbarara on Wednesday on day nine on his 320km journey from Kampala to Bushenyi. Photo | Felix Ainebyoona

What you need to know:

The issue: Road safety.

Our view: Our appeal is that each road user should avoid behaviours that would lead them to misuse the road. Like police advised, we expect every road user to be considerate to each other.

On the morning of Monday, February 28, NMG Uganda head of radio Joseph Beyanga started a 320km walk from Kampala to Bushenyi. His goal: raise awareness on road safety.

However, that week alone – February 28 to March 6 – at least 414 accidents were recorded, with 75 being fatal, the Uganda Police Force revealed on Monday. Those who died in these accidents were 89 while 315 sustained injuries.

By region, Kampala North recorded the highest number of cases, nine deaths and 41 injuries; Mbarara registered eight deaths, Mityana highway had seven deaths, Greater Bushenyi had six deaths, while Lugazi, Soroti, Tororo, Kampala Metropolitan South and East all registered five deaths.

These alarming figures were recorded in only one week, but they are no different from the previous trends. According to traffic police records released early last year, about 2,600 pedestrians and cyclists are killed on Uganda roads every year. Between 2016 and 2019, at least 10,537 pedestrians and riders were knocked dead in urban areas, highways and village roads.

The authorities have for years on end clamped down on errant road users, and various stakeholders have carried out road safety campaigns, the latest being the individual initiative by Mr Beyanga. But the trend still persists.

This goes on to show that until road users start being considerate and responsible, this trend will only increase. The leading causes of road accident in Uganda have been identified as speeding, drunken driving, distractions to driver, red light jumping, not using safety gears such as seat belts and helmets, non-adherence to lane driving and overtaking in a wrong manner, among others.

All these point towards one aspect; negligence on the part of road users. Our appeal is that each road user should avoid behaviours that would lead them to misuse the road. Like police advised, we expect every road user to be considerate to each other.

Plan your trips early enough and avoid last minute travels that will make you speed on the road. Obey the road signs to avoid being caught by surprise as you speed on those highways. Stay in your lane; driving on the wrong side of the road only endangers other road users.

Make sure your car is road worthy before you embark on those long journeys, for they could be the final one you make. Lastly, do not drink and drive; an intoxicated road user has very poor judgement.

As Mr Beyanga concludes his trek this week, let us all be reminded that road safety starts with you the individual. We do not have to continue burying thousands of Ugandans each year in the name of road accidents.

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