Road carnage again recently grabbed media attention in Uganda, after separate crashes in Fort Portal and on Mbale-Tirinyi road left 28 people dead on the same day, on Wednesday 4th May 2022.

Wizarts Foundation on Thursday 12th May 2022, assembled a panel that brought together government, bus drivers, civil society, media and the public to discuss steps being that should be taken to reduce accidents and improve first response to casualties of road accidents in Uganda.

Reports in the media indicates that human slaughter on Ugandan roads recently stabilized above national average of 10 deaths per day. Every week, the country loses over 100 people to road accidents, which has now become a major public health and development challenge for Uganda to address.

Globally, recent studies show that every year nearly 1.25 million people are killed and 50 million others are injured on the world’s roads. Highway road accidents, are said to be the eighth cause of death in the world since the 1990s, estimated to become the fifth cause of death in the world by the year 2030.

For our own case, the World Health Organization in its 2018 road safety assessment report, ranked Uganda among countries with the highest traffic death rates, estimated around 29 car deaths per 100,000 persons. Indeed, these high estimates are confirmed by the Police Annual crime report for 2020.

The road safety review by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa also shows that Uganda accounted for the highest number of accidents in East Africa in 2018, while our overall annual cost of road crashes were estimated to approximate UGX 4.4 trillion, that then representing five percent of Uganda’s GDP in 2018.

In the 2020 Police crime report published in April last year, over 12,249 crashes were reported in Uganda. Of these cases of road accident, 3,269 crashes were fatal, 5,803 were serious and 3,177 were minor. The reduction in the number of crashes from the previous year stood at 4.7 percent, and this was attributed to the Covid-19 restrictions on movement.

The report highlights that the festive days had the highest number of road accidents reported. December had 1,445 crashes, followed by October with 1,328 crashes and September with 1,270 crashes, among others. April showed the lowest number of crashes in 2020, with 470 reported cases.

December also registered the highest number of fatalities at 449, followed by February at 374 and September at 365. Fatalities were lowest in April. Crashes were also highest in the Kampala Metropolitan Area, though with a low fatality rate, where 79% of all fatal crashes occurred outside the Kampala Metropolitan Policing area, according to Uganda Police.

Uganda’s first response to casualties and victims of road accidents has stayed poor, though this could save lives of who are casualties critically injured. In 2020 alone, there were 13,012 casualties from crashes, the death toll for casualties has remained high, due to untimely and inefficient emergency response.

According to police, most road crashes in Uganda involve pedestrians, who constitute the highest number of fatalities at 34 percent. Accidents involving pedestrians, are said to occur as they cross roads, when vehicles veer off and plough into them or when a driver trying to avoid collision hits them-up.

Second to pedestrians are motorcyclists at 31 percent (1,146 fatalities), passengers (25 percent of fatalities), drivers five percent (182 fatalities) and Pedal cyclists also five percent (183 of fatalities) of all deaths on Ugandan roads in 2020. The key concern highlighted, is that most Ugandan roads do not have dedicated lanes for cyclists and pedestrians, which is a recipe for vulnerability to accidents.

Passengers are said to constitute the highest number of persons seriously injured, accounting for 35 percent (2,948), followed by motorcyclists at 34 percent (2,883), pedestrians 18 percent (1,511), drivers at eight percent (667) and pedal cyclists at four (361). In 2020, the proportion of males killed in crashes stood at eighty percent compared to females at twenty percent.

These crashes are mainly reported to occur during daytime; 71 percent of all accidents reportedly occurred during the day, with 42 percent of all crashes occurring between 3 pm and 9 pm in the evening. The highest number of crashes were recorded during rush hour between 5 – 6 pm. 

This is thought to be as a result of the heavy traffic of both vehicles and pedestrians as they return home from the day’s activities. The lowest number of crashes were late into the night.

Insights also show that over forty four percent of all crashes were due to reckless driving, while careless pedestrians, vehicles in dangerous mechanical condition, over speeding and poor roads also contributed to road accidents. The total number of vehicles involved in crashes in 2020 stood at 17,992: motorcycles accounting for 35 percent, motor cars 29 percent and light goods vehicles 7.8 percent. Still, light Omnibuses contributed 7.2 percent of road crashes, medium goods vehicles 5.4 percent dual purpose vehicles made-up for 4 percent, Trailers and Semitrailers (3.4%), and Pedal Cycles (2.7%).

Reported cases of road accidents per year in Uganda has been on the increase. Uganda through the Traffic and Road Safety Act (as amended in 2020) and other policies and conventions; is said to have a robust regulatory transport framework, which remains largely unimplemented and results in inefficient service provision for the people within the transport sector.

Some of the challenges leading to this includes unregulated public transport system, where vehicles in Uganda operate in poor mechanical conditions, poor driving and road use, among others. Follow the link below to listen to the issues that were raised during this space on rampant road accidents in Uganda:

Background: the Wizarts Spaces on Face the Citizens is intended to engage the public on topical and thematic issues affecting our community, with the overall goal of promoting civic engagement and media literacy: aimed towards awakening public consciousness, raising awareness and increasing civic competency on key development issues.

Wizarts Spaces are hosted on Thursday every week by Wizarts Foundation: a non-profit media NGO with the Vision and Mission to transform media and impact communities by opening windows of knowledge.

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