Road accidents in Uganda 2017

Posted on December 22, 2017 12:58 am

Speed kills is a common message in Ugandan media both traditional and social but it seems few pay attention. When a friend based in Kampala shared images of multiple road accidents that have taken place in the last few days, I was gutted. It’s the blunt safety message force-fed to motorists by law makers every day of the week, in television adverts, on roadside signage and adorning annual registration renewals.Speed, remains the number one causal factor of road fatalities in Uganda, a country of over 37 million people. It plays a part in about 60 per cent of all road deaths and costs the community millions of dollars each year.My friend who is in his late 20s, told your Ugandans don’t usually pay attention to speed signs. Being a Ugandan driver they seem more aspirational than a constraint and it can be hard to focus on them when there is so much happening online.This flippant attitude earns them a life changing accident or exit from this planet. He added that car accidents in Uganda are on the increase. The most common causes of road fatalities and car accidents occasioning serious harm are speed, fatigue, distraction including mobile phones, alcohol and drugs. A sobering thought, he said that 60-70 percent of the patients trauma treated have been involved in road accidents. According to some analysts estimates for 2016, road crashes cost Ugandan economy around $100 million in the month of December alone, which is the same as the Kampala City Council Authority budget, he says. Just think of the difference this money could make if it were available to be pumped into health, education or community services in Kampala.Most car accidents, my friend revealed, are simply the result of a momentary lapse in judgement or attention. “What Ugandans don’t realise is that around three quarters of all crashes are due to a minor mistake. It’s generally not that someone was on drugs or speeding,” he explained. “It’s just a small mistake such as being distracted, fatigued or going even a little over the speed limit. That’s how the majority of road crashes occur.”

He also states that road rage incidents are on the rise in roads heading to rural areas from the commercial hub, Kampala. My friend who is driving himself more than 500km away from Kampala to South Western region of Kabale, says the number of incidents involving person to person aggression on the roads have doubled and for his ride, he plans to have an assistant driver as its stupid to drive such a distance alone.He suggested the best way to avoid a car accident in Uganda is by taking responsibility, being courteous and cautious and using common sense. “Just because the speed limit says 80km or 100km per hour doesn’t mean that’s the optimum speed for your vehicle, the time of day or the conditions in which you’re driving,” my buddy says.Extra caution is also advisable around heavy vehicles, he emphasized, “eighty percent of accidents involving a heavy vehicle are not the fault of the heavy vehicle driver but are a result of someone pulling in front of them without realizing there’s 60 tonnes travelling behind them. Trucks don’t stop at the same speed as a car. That’s why truck drivers leave so much space. If you pull in too early in front of a truck, you just might end up underneath it.” He also believes that the more safety features you’re vehicle has, the safer the passengers. “If you have a vehicle with a five-star safety rating, curtain airbags and added safety technology you are far more likely to survive than in a car without.” “Things happen,” and in Uganda, cars are second to motor bikes when it comes to taking people’s lives. “ Ugandans need to take a deep breath and think, do you need to be the first person at the highway lights? Does it matter if someone indicates and comes in front of you? If everyone just takes a bit more time, Ugandans can reduce the number of road casualties.”

Contador Harrison