World Remembrance Day For Road Traffic Victims should be a day to propel action – Monitor
By Guest Columnists
The overall goal for stakeholders should be to think and act along what is being remembered in order save the many lives that are lost daily
Every year, we observe the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims and this year we are commemorating the day on November 20.
The whole world uses this as an opportunity to remember those killed or seriously injured, draw attention to the need for a more appropriate and just post-crash response for road traffic victims and their families, and call for accelerated action on road safety to save lives.
Road safety is clearly a discussion we as stakeholders must continually and untiringly have given the fact that roads are without a doubt the most important mode of transportation.
According to Uganda Police Crime Report, in the last four years, pedestrians have been killed the most, with a massive number of 5,551 deaths in this period. This is followed by motor cyclists and passengers on the motorcycle, representing 4,478 and 1,739 persons killed, respectively. From the statistics and data from Uganda police, reckless driving is the primary cause of crashes in the country. Between 2019 and 2021, reckless and negligent driving caused a combined total of 13,208 crashes. Surprisingly, this is followed by careless pedestrians, who have pushed 2,527 crashes in this period.
The scale and magnitude of the effects of road accidents to the lives of those involved and society, in general, must be clearly defined to raise awareness and input to government’s road safety intervention measures. Improving everyone’s safety on the roads must not be an option but rather a priority for policymakers, politicians and operators.
Apart from the carelessness exhibited by road users, especially motorist, Uganda’s road infrastructure is generally unsafe. Most of the roads are single carriageway without a median, many with steep shoulders and with few opportunities for overtaking, resulting in many head-on collisions. And most roads lack facilities for non- motorised users.
Recently the Uganda Police has been releasing a compilation of CCTV footage showing gory images of boda boda motorcycle accidents. The pictures are horrendous showing how boda bodas are knocked down by speeding vehicles on the streets, leaving those riding them either injured or dead. The situation is worse in Uganda’s capital where there is total disregard for traffic rules. This has been worsened by the impunity exhibited by government officials, people in places of influence, and ordinary Ugandans.
For a long time, political will and commitment have been the missing gap to address the gaps in road safety. There is need for more emphasis on the control of boda bodas operating in the cities and towns. This emphasis should go beyond just having boda boda riders put on reflector jackets and helmets but also having them to understand their role in reducing road crashes.
It is clear that there is a need for every stakeholder to reflect on their roles. We must remember traffic reports show that more than 80 per cent of accidents are a result of human factors, including lack of professional driving skills.
As we remember road traffic victims, we must recognise that there is still a lot of work to do. The challenges are far from over but we know from some of our achievements that through increased private sector involvement and public-private partnerships, these gaps can be closed.
Most importantly, all stakeholders in all their capacities must know and play their role in addressing the issues related to road safety. This is the only way to have a remembrance day that is relevant where in spite of the sadness which may still arise, we can take pride in improving road safety experiences and statistics.
“Public remembrance is not for the benefit of victims to remember what happened to them. Victims remember well what happened to them. Public reflection is the act of recognition. It states to the victims and their families that their humanity is valued, that their loss is our loss and that their suffering is shared, if only through recognising the tragedy and error of its occurrence”.
The overall goal for stakeholders should be to think and act along what is being remembered in order save the many lives that are lost daily.
Brighten Abaho is a programme associate at Centre for Policy Analysis (CEPA)
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