FEATURE : Fighting road accidents

Why would someone risk their life driving recklessly? Why do accidents occur? Don’t these people get their driver’s permits when they are qualified and after passing the exams? These are some questions one might come across. However, accidents are…accidents. The good thing is, they are preventable.
Commissioner General of Police, Emmanuel Gasana (L), sharing ideas with a coleague during the launch of the Road Safety Week
Commissioner General of Police, Emmanuel Gasana (L), sharing ideas with a coleague during the launch of the Road Safety Week

Why would someone risk their life driving recklessly? Why do accidents occur? Don’t these people get their driver’s permits when they are qualified and after passing the exams? These are some questions one might come across. However, accidents are…accidents. The good thing is, they are preventable.

Last week, the Rwanda National Police (RNP) was carried out the Road Safety Week, aiming at reducing road accidents.

The institution carried out various activities on all roads and highways aimed at sensitizing both passengers and drivers. In this respect, passengers are enlightened about their role in fighting road accidents. These among others include their rights to express their point of view whenever they feel insecure by either over speeding drivers or when one is driving under the influence of alcohol.

Drivers are also reminded of the basics and usual instructions of road safety. At the launch of the national Road Safety Week at Kimihurura round -about, next to Kigali Business Centre (KBC), the Commissioner General of Police, Emmanuel Gasana urged all road users to obey traffic rules.

He made the remarks to inform the public of its expected role in maintaining road safety. In addition to maintaining traffic rules, last month the police also endeavoured to involve children on issues concerning road safety.

In a workshop at Nyamata in Bugesera district in the Eastern province, about 100 children were trained on road safety measures.

In his remarks, the Police Spokesman, Eric Kayiranga, noted that training children on  Road safety measures is an important undertaking that can also limit accidents on the roads.

“When we sensitize children on road safety measures, they become good road users most especially when they go to school,” Kayiranga noted.

He explained that when children take the message home, it will serve a purpose of educating parents, drivers, motor-cyclists and other road users.

In an interview with The Sunday Times, Kayiranga said the annual Road Safety Week is set on reminding the public on their responsibility as far as preventing accidents that claim innocent lives or maim others.

He explained that based on the causes of road accidents, it is possible to avoid losing life to accidents by avoiding certain things that may lead to accidents.

According to the Police Spokesman, among the leading causes of accidents are over speeding, poor mechanical conditions of some vehicles and driving under the influence of alcohol.

According to Kayiranga, article 29 of the traffic code, every driver must abide by the maximum speed on the regulatory provision.

He said that for a motor-cycle and motor-vehicle the authorized maximum weight does not exceed 3 and 1/2 tones. It is authorized to move at 80 km per hour on highways.

Public transport in rural areas that also include buses, the speed should not exceed 60km per hour.

In urban centres or towns, public transport means are limited to only 40 km per hour while private vehicles are set at 50 km per hour.

If drivers go beyond the set limit, the law is applied based on how it has been worked against.

Kayiranga advised all road users to mind their lives as they move saying that in case of accidents, lives are lost hence loss of the most valuable resource to the country.

“Respect Zebra crossings, sign posts and traffic lights among other measures towards prevention of road accidents,” he said.

Speaking to The Sunday Times, the president of ATRACO, a commuter transporters association, Col. (rtd) Ludovic Dodo Twahirwa said that the association has managed to conduct many studies, educating both taxi drivers and conductors.

He said drivers have been sensitized on how best they can uphold not only the image of ATRACO but also keeping good and clean records as far as road safety is concerned.

“On many occasions we have conducted trainings not for driving, but on conduct at work. This included lessons on how to prevent accidents on roads, behaviour when conducting business thus customer care for the passengers,” Twahirwa explained.

He also criticized other drivers who are reported to misuse the roads by denying other road users the rights they deserve.

“The tendency of driving against others’ rights is unacceptable and even before the police handles, Atraco has its penalties for parties who are at fault,” he said.

He also made clarifications on how both drivers and pedestrians should use the rights reserved for them to help in maintaining proper road movement.

Benon, a taxi driver appreciated efforts made by the police mostly the act of reminding the public through the national Road Safety Week about their responsibility in ensuring road safety.

He pointed out the tendency where some drivers drive beyond the accepted speeds in a move to get two passengers at the next stage, ignoring those already in the taxi or bus.

“Over speeding mostly comes at a time when some drivers decide to hurry for the few passengers at the next stage, risking the lives of those in the vehicles,” he noted.

However, he also criticized some police officers who stop taxi drivers in places which can easily cause accidents.

“Sometimes we are forced to stop just after a round-about. Such instructions can also lead to accidents,” he said, urging concerned parties to at least come-up with a proper arrangement where traffic officers will consider points where drivers can safely stop.

Alex, a motor-cyclist, said that road safety or taking responsibility on road safety measures is not only important for keeping good records but also keeping his motor-cycle or another person who owns a car, safe.

“This is the way I survive with my family in Kigali. I therefore have to make sure that it is in proper conditions, so that I can continue staying in Kigali,” he said.

He explained that although sometimes accidents occur based on reckless driving or riding, it can never be in the interest of the driver.

However, he was indeed disappointed by some drivers who to him undermine the works of the motorcyclists. He said that they oppress them mainly when it comes to giving them space when negotiating corners. 

“Some drivers sometimes don’t utilize their indicators while overtaking or when parking,” he complained further.

The motorcyclist also said that ASSETAMORWA (an association of taxi motor-cyclists) officials sometimes risk people’s lives. He explains that these officials sometimes chase them claiming they are criminals.

He said, “It becomes dangerous when these officials interrupt me when carrying a passenger in a sense that I will run at a loss and the customers’ time is also wasted.”
He noted that it’s far better to note the number plate of the motorcycle, and the area he operates from so as to follow up any wrong doing.

According to police report, accidents increased by 3.6 percent in the last three months.

It also indicates that within the last nine months, 1704 accidents have been registered. Hopefully, after the national Road Safety Week, these numbers will fall drastically.

Email : mugoyag@yahoo.com 

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