Police: 60% motorcycle accident fatalities due to head injuries

A scene of a fatal accident at Kicukiro in 2016. Photo: Sam Ngendahimana.

Traffic Police says that an estimated 60 per cent of fatalities from motorcycle accidents are caused by head injuries, and that this could be mostly because of helmet misuse or poor quality helmets, among others.

This comes after the 2019 road safety report released at the beginning of the month, which indicated that there were 184 fatalities from motorcycle accidents countrywide.

According to the report, the highest number of fatalities were pedestrians, which is 223 while bicyclists accounted for 130 deaths during the year.

Helmet misuse

In a news conference held at the beginning of the month, it was stressed that some passengers using motorcycles do not wear helmets in a proper way, if they wear them at all.

According to the police, some people shun helmets because “they want to keep their hairstyle right”, and end up putting their lives in danger.

“The message I would give those people is that life is very precious, they should take care of it,” said Commissioner of Police Rafiki Mujiji, the Commissioner for Traffic and Road Safety department.

“If there is an accident, the head is the first to hit the ground. If you are not wearing a helmet, your life will be lost,” he added.

He further explained, that a bigger per centage of road accidents are preventable, so people should take care, by also avoiding other behaviors like using the phone while riding.

Quality of helmets

Usually, one is given a helmet when they buy a motorcycle. But they can also buy one on the side from different shops around town.

Mujiji explained to The New Times, that among the motorcycle accident fatalities, poor quality helmets could be among the causes.

“Two things majorly cause fatalities; misuse of helmets or the quality of helmets”.

“The helmets being used are not tested first, so we don’t know their effectiveness level yet,” he further explained.


Pedestrians recorded the highest fatalities in road accidents; 223 pedestrians died in 2019.

Although there is no law against reckless pedestrians, some of them break traffic rules; crossing the road while speaking on phone or texting, standing in zebra crossing, among others. Some of them cause accidents, that could result into fatalities.

“Government has proposed amendments to traffic regulations to ensure tough punishment for reckless driving”, he said, adding that “the regulations also prescribe punishments for pedestrians who do not respect traffic rules”, Police Spokesperson, CP John Bosco Kabera told The New Times in September 2019.

Meanwhile, with the contribution of the 52-week long road safety awareness campaign, Gerayo Amahoro, which was launched on May 19 last year, the number of road accidents decreased to 4,661 cases in 2019, from 5,661 that were recorded in 2018, an equivalent of 17 per cent reduction.

The campaign also saw a 42 per cent reduction in fatalities caused by driving under alcohol influence, over speeding and mechanically unsound vehicles, the lead causes of road accidents.


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