Fort Portal-Kyenjojo road has not claimed 37 lives

The wreckage of one of the taxis that was involved in an accident on Fort Portal-Kyegegwa road stretch recently. PHOTO / ALEX ASHABA

I refer to the article that was run in the Daily Monitor newspaper & website on May 30, titled “Newly built road claims 37 lives in five months”.
In this article, Fort Portal-Kyenjojo Road, a newly rehabilitated road was listed as a death trap, yet at the same time attributing the minibus taxi accidents to tire burst, and speeding.
 Whenever such accidents happen, there is always a tendency to quickly blame the road, yet the road by itself cannot claim a life.

A 2016 study by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), USA found that crashes due to human error account for anywhere between 94 percent and 96 percent of all auto accidents.
This implies a big percentage of crashes on the road are caused by factors unrelated to the road but rather human error and drivers crash on the road due to different contributing factors that may include the following: 
Driver behaviour: Such as driving beyond posted speed limits, overtaking on short gaps, driving under the influence of alcohol/drugs, distracted by co-driver, text driving, intoxicated by drugs, incapacitated to make safe judgements etc.

Vehicle condition: A vehicle being in dangerous mechanical condition, tyre bursts, brake failure, deem lighting etc.
The factors related to the road environment such as slippery road surface, improper lighting, sharp curve, lane narrowing, etc only contribute to a small percentage in the remaining 6 percent of the accidents on the road.
The Fort Portal-Kyegegwa road has been tarmacked for the past 25 years and any recent rehabilitation interventions have not changed the road to introduce unexpected situations for the driver.
For this reason, therefore, the recent reported crashes cannot be attributed to the road condition. This fact was also highlighted in the body of the article despite the misleading title, where it was reported that the “crash for the taxi drivers was due to the tyre burst!

To establish the actual cause of the accident, usually an accident investigation report is prepared by competent road safety professionals that establish which of the above mentioned factors are attributed to have caused the accident.  
For cases where the road is the problem, such locations are characterised by repeated crashes (10 fatal or serious crashes within a period of 5years to be considered a road black spot) owing to the features of the road geometry / maintenance condition at that particular location. Such locations are termed as Black Spots. 

Following a review of the crash statistics from Uganda Police, none of the locations for the recent accidents qualify as black spots. It should also be noted that prevention of road accidents is a shared responsibility entailing many players.  
While Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra) is focusing on improving the road condition and building safer roads across the country, the road users (specifically drivers) play a big role in ensuring they address the two major causes of accidents highlighted above namely driver behaviour and vehicle condition. 

Uganda Police Force also needs to continue to enforce the Traffic Laws, while the Ministry of Works and Transport conducts the driver training & Licensing.
 Daily Monitor should on its part also help in sensitising the public and road users on proper use and protection of the roads to promote safety on our roads.

Robinah Nampeera
 Road Safety engineer,   
Uganda National Roads Authority.

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