Many vulnerable people including children were omitted from the Uganda Road Safety Act which affects their safety on the road. The omissions would have been covered if Uganda was a signatory to international charters and Regulations on road safety.
Researchers from the Trauma, Injuries and Disability (TRIAD) Unit of the Makerere University (MAK) School of Public Health say that the country still has a lot of legislative gaps on the majority of the road crash risk factors such as speed, drink driving and use of safety gear.
The Act was amended in 2020 and research on road safety is showing that enforcement of laws and regulations can help much more than instilling behavioural change strategies for road users.
Esther Bayiga Zziwa, a researcher at the Unit, says that the law is silent on children using the road and there are no restrictions on what seats they should take in the car yet they are at greater risk of major injury during a crash because of their body mass.
When it comes to high speed as a risk factor, the researchers say whereas there is a speed law with limits of 50km/hour on urban roads, the law doesn’t permit this to be adjusted by local authorities depending on the circumstances at the time in a particular place.
Even for helmets, in the case of motorists who are also one of the most badly affected categories in crashes with Police data showing that more than 1500 perish in accidents every year and over 4000 others survive with bad injuries, enforcement is weak and the law doesn’t properly describe what an appropriate helmet should look-like and how it can be effectively used.
Bayiga says this is despite the fact that the Uganda National Bureau of Standards has standards for helmets that aren’t properly enforced.
Tonny Ayoo, the Deputy Chairperson of the Parliamentary Forum on Road Safety, said that they had taken note of the concerns and that they have now embarked on pushing for strategy reforms for the second decade of action to come up with interventions that work pointing out sensitization on proper road use as one of the areas they are looking at.
The MPs however pointed out that money has been earmarked for the establishment of a crash data system where a person involved in an accident can be captured all through from the scene to police, the hospitals and even mortuaries.
This they say is coming in to address concerns of poor quality road crash data which is not representative of what’s actually happening on the ground.