Road accidents are among the eight-leading causes of death globally. This week on Monday the senate summoned Prime Minister amid concerns over rising cases of road accidents in the country.
While the government having heavily invested in speed cameras, this is yet to pay off by reducing the number of road accidents due to speed. The police have intensified the clampdown on drunk driving, but it has not stopped reckless drivers from getting behind the wheel while intoxicated.
There are increasing cases of drivers using a mobile phone including those who wrongly assume that using a handsfree phone while driving is safe.
According to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Co-operation and Security, accidents increased from 4,160 in 2020 to 8,639 in 2021, and 8,660 in 2022. They were loss of lives, with 629 deaths in 2020, 655 in 2021, and 687 this year.
Hadija Murangwa Ndangiza, chairperson of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Security expressed concerns, noting that the cases were many, and at the current rate the figure represents an average of two Rwandan residents per day.
There is a need to do more to improve road safety, among them increasing awareness campaigns about various aspects of road safety, social and economic implications of road accidents, and what needs to be done to curb the rising number of road accidents.
This would enable and empower different stakeholders to play a meaningful role in promoting road safety. In recent weeks, there were reports of big trucks losing breaks running over pedestrians.
Last year, road accidents claimed 655 lives and the majority — 225 — were pedestrians. Figures by the Rwanda National Police show that last year out of 684 victims of serious crashes, 175 were pedestrians, and out of 5,244 minor accidents, 1262 involved pedestrians.
That pedestrians are among the majority of victims of road accidents calls for more awareness campaigns on how to use the road safely including the meaning of signposts, using pedestrian crosswalks, and walking on the left side of the road facing the oncoming automobiles. This is in addition to encouraging drivers to respect pedestrian rights on the road.
There is also a need to strengthen enforcement of traffic rules including wearing seat belts as research has shown that wearing a seatbelt reduces the risk of ejection from a vehicle and suffering serious or fatal injury by 40–65 percent.
Most of all, there is a need for strict enforcement of traffic regulations including the use of technology and enforcement of strict penalties to ensure strict compliance and enhance deterrence for violation of traffic rules. Safety standards for automobiles must be improved to minimize cases of cars in poor mechanical positions on roads.
As the festive season kicks off with many family gatherings planned in different parts of the country, every effort must be made to reduce.