As we enter the festive season, most people are on the road theading to their holiday destinations. This, therefore, calls for some precautions when driving on some roads as Didas Kisembo explains
According to police records, December continues to take the highest toll on human life due to motor accidents. It is the one month on the calendar year that accommodates the festive period where many cars are out on the road.
Last year alone, police records indicate that about 17,283 persons fell prey to the festive season rush. Of that number, 2,937 lost their lives and the rest sustained both severe and minor injuries.
Unfortunately for many Ugandans, that time of the year no longer beckons from a distance, it is here.
Eric Musumba, a travel agent notes, “This is the worst season to be on the road. There is too much traffic on the road and to make matters worse, the speeds are often higher than usual.”
Musumba points out that police has tried to curb recklessness on the roads throughout the year but mostly in December and try to bring down the accident rates. However, he adds that it is corruption within their ranks that has fostered the resilience in the death toll.
So far, there are an estimated 200 black spots along several routes that have featured some of the accidents. .
Amongst these is the Kampala-Jinja, Kampala-Gulu, Kampala-Mbarara and the Northern Bypass roads. These roads are renowned for their having sharp corners, limited road signs, large potholes, and narrow sections.
Last year, 29 people lost their lives in an accident where a Toyota Noah rammed into the back of a fuel tanker at Namungoona Kasubi along the Northern Bypass, causing a petroleum spill which upon ignition burnt all within the vicinity of the tanker. Police later attributed the cause to over speeding along a route that features sharp corners and narrow roundabouts.
“As government continues to repair and better the highways, the road users are seeing this as an opportunity to test the speed limits of their cars,” Norman Kagolo, a traffic warden said.
“It is insane how cars are pushed to speeds of even 150km, 160km per hour. It is madness. That is how people get themselves killed,” Kagolo says.
Speed limits in built-up areas are generally 50km/h and out of town 80km/hour most routes across the country and breach of these limits can result in a fine, imprisonment or both by police.
He singles out the Kampala – Mubende – Fortportal – Kasese route as one of the highly fatal roads when it comes to accidents involving over speeding.
Norman Kagolo, a traffic warden points to several factors as the major contributing causes to road accidents during the festive season. Amongst them is, reckless driving, speeding and over loading.
Driving with full lights
“It is baffling how some drivers at night move with full lights well knowing that they are making visibility for their compatriots on the other end hard,” he says
Kagolo says in other instances, it has been the poor road which have created the conditions for fatal and serious accidents.
“Some of the roads have terrible potholes and drivers struggle to navigate through them, and in others, it is the dust that affects visibility.”
Last year, Kampala Metropolitan Area (Kampala South, Kampala East and Kampala North in that order) stacked up the highest number of accident cases with 52.5 per cent numbering 9,651 of all crashes. While the Karamoja regions (Moroto and Kidepo) came in lowest.
Many cars on the road
“In my view, travelling on the up-country roads, particularly outside Kampala is more dangerous especially in this period when most people are travelling and should be treated with the most caution,” warns Kagolo.
“It is where everybody will be heading and unless they proceed with caution, the chances of accidents are high considering there will be increased traffic on the road.”
He also points to poor driving standards and also pathetic maintenance of vehicles as the other reasons why the accident rate is high.
“Some people embark on upcountry trips without fully servicing their cars and checking whether they are in the condition to endure these long distances,” he remarks.
“And in the end you will hear of issues like brake failure resulting into collisions or some other form of accident.”
Livestock on the road
The Jinja - Kampala and the Kampala - Masaka roads as accident black spots have particularly been cited by Police for featuring road users that often drive without lights and also livestock roaming the roads.
“The drivers these days do not take good care of their car lights and as such, you find cars with either dim or no lights at all travelling at night,” says Micheal Okot, a traffic officer.
Micheal Okot, a traffic officer, advises that for reasons of road safety and security, people should avoid travelling outside Kampala after dark, except on the road between Kampala and Entebbe that is well lit.
He adds that drivers should only overtake in the right place and only when it is necessary. They should also wear seatbelts and avoid drunk driving.
Therefore, as we get into the festive season, let’s all try to be careful when driving so that we are not part of the statistics.
• Under influence of alcohol
• Careless pedestrian
• Careless driving
• Passenger falls from vehicle
• Dazzled by Lights
• Brake failure
• Tyre blow out
• Steering wheel failure
• Head light failure