Uganda: How Uganda Ranks in Drink Driving, Fatal Accidents and Helmet Use

Roads in Africa are the riskiest places to be on in the continent, but you are less likely to be killed in a car accident in Uganda than anywhere else in East Africa, according to a WHO report.

The World Health Organization (WHO) Road Safety Report 2015 states that there are 27.4 traffic deaths per 100,000 people every year in Uganda. It is higher in Kenya at 29.1, Rwanda 32.1 and Tanzania 32.9.

India has the most fatalities, but Libya is top on a per capita basis. The fatality rate on Libya's roads was 73.4 per 100,000 people, way ahead of Thailand at 36.2 in second place. In the Developed World, according to the most recent year data available (2013), Germany has only 4.3 deaths per 100,000 people while the United States and United Kingdom had 10.6 and 2.9 respectively.

The report states that about 1.25 million people die each year in the world as a result of road traffic accidents, which means a road user dies every 30 seconds that pass - 3,400 daily. Between 20 and 50 million more people also suffer non-fatal injuries, with many incurring a disability as a result of their injury.

The report adds that 90% of the world's fatalities on the roads occur in low- and middle-income countries, even though these countries have approximately half of the world's vehicles.Another terrifying statistic is that road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death in the world among young people, aged 15-29 years.

The countries with worst road fatality rates.

Pedestrians at Most Risk

Half of those dying on the world's roads are "vulnerable road users", that is pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. In Uganda, Boda Boda accidents are reported to be top of the list of traffic accidents, and emergency admissions to hospitals.

A Uganda Police annual traffic report for 2013, while comparing statistics with the previous year, states that "generally there was a 6% decrease in the total number of persons killed in 2013. However the number of motor cyclists and pedal cyclists who died in 2013 increased by 12.3% and 3.2% respectively from that of 2012."

The Uganda Report stated that "pedestrians and passengers continue to be the most vulnerable category of road users constituting 40.2% and 26.6 % respectively of the total number of persons killed in 2012. 1,181 pedestrians (40.2%), 781 passengers (26.6 %), 224 pedal cyclists (7.6%), 641 motor cyclists (21.8 %) and 110 drivers (3.7%) were killed in road accidents in 2013."

To put it in perspective, more people die on the road worldwide every year than the annual death toll of about 438,000 from malaria.

What the report also reveals

*105 countries have good seat-belt laws that apply to all occupants;

*47 countries have good speed laws defining a national urban maximum speed limit of 50 Km/h and empowering local authorities to further reduce speed limits;

*34 countries have a good drink-driving law with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit of less than or equal to 0.05 g/dl as well as lower limits of less than or equal to 0.02 g/dl for young and novice drivers;

*44 countries have helmet laws that apply to all drivers, passengers, roads and engine types; require the helmet to be fastened and refer to a particular helmet standard;

*52 countries have a child restraint law for occupants of vehicles based on age, height or weight, and apply an age or height restriction on children sitting in the front seat.

*Motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable, making up 23% of all road traffic deaths. In many regions this problem is increasing; in the region of the Americas, for example, the proportion of motorcycle deaths out of all road traffic fatalities rose from 15% to 20% between 2010 and 2013. In the South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions a third of all road traffic deaths are among motorcyclists.

Drink driving statistics

Other areas of concern

Drinking and driving increases both the risk of a crash and the likelihood that death or serious injury will result.The risk of being involved in a crash increases significantly above a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.04 g/dl.

Wearing a motorcycle helmet correctly can reduce the risk of death by almost 40% and the risk of severe injury by over 70%.When motorcycle helmet laws are enforced effectively, helmet wearing rates can increase to over 90%.

Seat-belts and child restraints

Wearing a seat-belt reduces the risk of a fatality among front-seat passengers by 40-50% and of rear-seat passengers by between 25-75%.Mandatory seat-belt laws and their enforcement have been shown to be very effective at increasing seat-belt wearing rates.If correctly installed and used, child restraints reduce deaths among infants by approximately 70% and deaths among small children by between 54% and 80%.

Distracted driving (SMS driving)

There are many types of distractions that can lead to impaired driving, but recently there has been a marked increase around the world in the use of mobile phones by drivers that is becoming a growing concern for road safety. Text messaging also results in considerably reduced driving performance, with young drivers at particular risk of the effects of distraction resulting from this use.

African situation.

Cost of the accidents

WHO estimates car crashes cost the global economy up to $500 billion annually. Without action, road traffic crashes are predicted to rise to become the 7th leading cause of death by 2030.Road traffic injuries cause considerable economic losses to victims, their families, and to nations as a whole. These losses arise from the cost of treatment (including rehabilitation and incident investigation) as well as reduced/lost productivity (e.g. in wages) for those killed or disabled by their injuries, and for family members who need to take time off work (or school) to care for the injured.

According to WHO, the newly adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development's has set an ambitious road safety target of halving the global number of deaths and injuries from road traffic crashes by 2020.

"Road traffic fatalities take an unacceptable toll - particularly on poor people in poor countries," says Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO at the launch of the 2015 Road Safety report

Countries that have had the most success in reducing the number of road traffic deaths have achieved this by improving legislation, enforcement, and making roads and vehicles safer."We're moving in the right direction," adds Dr Chan. "The report shows that road safety strategies are saving lives. But it also tells us that the pace of change is too slow."

Bloomberg leads action to improve situation

According to Michael R. Bloomberg, "Without action, road traffic crashes will become the seventh leading cause of death by 2030."

"We can prevent millions of road traffic fatalities and injuries through stronger laws, more effective enforcement and better infrastructure," said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term mayor of New York City."Road traffic deaths will become increasingly common in the years ahead, unless we take decisive action now to prevent them."

Bloomberg Initiative for Global Road Safety has dedicated $250 million over 12 years to implement interventions. WHO are partnering with Bloomberg Initiative to improve Global Road Safety 2015 - 2019.

Five countries have been selected to receive technical support to review and strengthen road safety legislation include China, India, Philippines, Thailand and Tanzania.

Ten cities have also been identified, in which proven road safety interventions will be implemented. They are Accra, Ghana; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Bandung, Indonesia; Bangkok, Thailand; Bogota, Colombia; Fortaleza, Brazil; Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam; Mumbai, India; Sao Paolo, Brazil; and Shanghai, China.

The selected cities will receive Senior-level, full-time staff to work within city governments on their road safety initiatives for up to 5 years. They will also receive comprehensive technical assistance from the world's leading road safety organizations, training for police officers and other relevant city staff plus support to create hard-hitting mass media campaigns.

Success stories

"For example, in an unprecedented shift, China instituted stronger penalties for drinking and driving in 2011, and in 2013, Vietnam penalties were established for motorcyclists wearing helmets that failed to meet safety standards," said a report from Bloomberg Philanthropies.

"Similarly, in Cambodia, a strong road safety bill was passed in January 2015. Part of the law now requires all motorcyclists, including drivers and passengers, wear a helmet. Additionally, the interventions have had a notable impact on the ground. In Ivanovo, Russia, in 2014 88% of car riders wear seatbelts, a sharp contrast to 2011, when less than half wore life-saving seat-belts."

Source: All Africa