Africa records highest road traffic fatality rate report

The Global Status Report on Road Safety 2012-2013 says the risk of dying from traffic injuries is highest in Africa compared to other parts of the world.
Traffic Police officers help a taxi-moto accident victim off the road recently. The New Times/ T. Kisambira.
Traffic Police officers help a taxi-moto accident victim off the road recently. The New Times/ T. Kisambira.

The Global Status Report on Road Safety 2012-2013 says the risk of dying from traffic injuries is highest in Africa compared to other parts of the world.

The African continent recorded an average of 24.1 out of 100,000 people dying as a result of road crash in a year. In other words, in a country of 10 million people, 2,400 die on the roads every year.

The regions of eastern Mediterranean and eastern Pacific recorded 21.3 deaths out of 100,000 and 18.5 out of 100,000 population respectively, whilst the European region scored the lowest traffic fatality rate of 10.3 deaths per 100,000 people.

The factors which account for this trend in Africa include lack of awareness on the fact that road traffic injuries are preventable and causes such as drink driving, speeding, lack of enforcement of legislations such as seatbelts and using helmets.

Jean Marie Vianney Ndushabandi, the spokesperson of the Rwanda National Police traffic and road safety, said accidents in the country were caused by different reasons citing human behaviour, status of roads as well as the status of vehicles.

He said, however, that new mechanisms have been established to reduce accidents.

Among the measures is the establishment of alcohol testing machines to test motorists who drive while drunk, introduction of speed radars and increasing the number of traffic officers on the roads.

“We continue to sensitise the public through the media and other means to avoid speeding and other related acts that might cause accidents,” he said.

He also said most fatal accidents occur on highways upcountry and motorcyclists are more prone to accidents than motorists.

The report, released in January, indicates that 308 lives were lost last year in road accidents. Police revealed that in 2012, the deaths recorded represented a reduction of 21 per cent from 392 that were registered in 2011.

From January to February, about 600 accidents have been recorder. Of these, 75 were fatal, claiming 72 people.

Explaining causes

Dr Martin Ekeke-Monono, the technical officer at the World Health Organisation (WHO), said inadequate data to document the magnitude, causes and consequences of these injuries contributes significantly to road accidents in Africa.

“Many people still consider them as ‘accidents’, random events over which we have no control. These are predictable events, thus preventable. By studying these events and analysing their causes we can devise interventions to prevent them,” he said.

“Another worrying factor which accounts for the high road crash fatality rate in Africa is lack of political commitment. This is in part due to poor data, but also due to the fact that most authorities think our problems are still limited to malaria, HIV/Aids and other infectious diseases,” Dr Ekeke-Monono added.

The report, which was compiled by WHO, is the second of its kind, after the one released in 2010.

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