Speed governors have reduced traffic accidents, says Police

Rwanda National Police (RNP) says speed governors that were introduced in public transport vehicles early this year have seen the number of road accidents decrease by 21%.
A traffic officer shows government officials how speed governors work in public vehicles. / File
A traffic officer shows government officials how speed governors work in public vehicles. / File

Rwanda National Police (RNP) says speed governors that were introduced in public transport vehicles early this year have seen the number of road accidents decrease by 21%.

The hi-technology gadget has also seen the number of people injured and deaths caused by road accidents shrink considerably, traffic police spokesperson CIP Emmanuel Kabanda told Sunday Times.

The device limits vehicles to a top speed of 60 kilometres per hour and trims down the speed to 25 kilometres per hour when the vehicle attempts to exceed the set maximum velocity.

Kabanda said since the introduction of the speed limiters, police embarked upon a sensitization campaign aiming at convincing concerned drivers about the importance of speed governors.

That was after a surge in road accidents in 2014 which claimed 70 deaths while another 100 were admitted in hospitals mainly resulting from speeding, according to police.

“We decided to use speed governors inspired by the fact that similar accidents had occurred elsewhere and those tools helped address the issue of road carnage,” Kabanda said.

Police recorded 541 cases of which 25 people had been killed and74 seriously injured between August 2016 and January 2017, before the introduction of those speed governors.

During the period between February-July 2017, police says it recorded 424 accidents that killed 14 people while those injured were 54. These figures led the police to the conclusion that the use of speed governors was yielding positive results.

He added that “we so far have installed speed governors in 3,054 public transport vehicles (59.3%) and in 5,430 trucks (80.2%).”

However, drivers have been complaining about losses they encounter as a result of use of speed governors, asking for an increase of at least 20 kilometres on the maximum speed limit.

CIP Kabanda disagrees with the request, saying the September 2012 Presidential Order on use of roads says public transporters shouldn’t exceed 60 kilometers per hour and should be respected the way it is.

While addressing journalists recently, Commissioner for Traffic and Road Safety George Rumanzi reacted to concerns of 60km/hr maximum speed, saying it was arrived at after considering a number of factors.

“There was consideration of the terrain; our country is hilly, meaning our roads have many sharp corners. Any attempt to negotiate a corner at a speed that is above 60km/hr may result to falling off the road. It was therefore a deliberate effort to prevent fatal accidents that largely result from high speed by public transport vehicles,” he said.

The traffic police spokesperson CIP Emmanuel Kabanda told Sunday Times that they are now cracking down on drivers who have been deliberately jamming speed governors.

Police say some drivers or owners of the vehicles overrun the system to switch on and off the device whenever they want especially when they notice traffic officers, after installing switch button through the system backdoor.

Others devise ways to plug-in earphones to deactivate the system, while others drive while the engine is turned off in certain areas, police says.

“Such drivers will be punished for over-speeding and jamming the device as well”, CIP Kabanda said, adding that “when the device no longer works properly we confiscate the mechanical certificate of the car,” without which a car is not allowed on the roads.

When the certificate is seized, the owner of the car is compelled to take back his car to MIC, which is RNP’s motor-vehicle mechanical inspection center to get a new one.

While launching speed governors in September 2016, the then State Minister for Transport, Alexis Nzahabwanimana, warned that tampering with them could amount to a criminal offence.

He called it a “deliberate act to undermine the government policy and to violate people’s right to live, which can amount to manslaughter in case of fatal accidents.”

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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