The silent killer on the road: Don’t text and drive

Why should you drive and use the mobile phone yet you are aware of the dangers? It has become a trend that every festive season, Uganda’s accident toll rises because of the many drivers and road users travelling upcountry to celebrate with their families. It is often unavoidable because almost everyone takes a break from work.

However, in a bid to make it to your various destinations, we are then faced with problems such as reckless driving, speeding and using mobile phones while driving which usually, are the cause of the many road accidents.

According to Uganda Traffic Police statistics, deaths recorded during the 2022 festive season due to road accidents were slightly higher than the years before.

From December 23rd to 28th, 66 people lost their lives in different road crashes which shows the rise in the accident toll. In the first week of 2023, police recorded 340 road crashes involving 324 victims of which 79 died while others are nursing injuries in various hospitals.

The statistics also indicate that between January and September 2022, 1,021 boda boda riders and 401 passengers lost their lives due to road accidents.

On 10th January 2023, while addressing journalists on traffic rules, Faridah Nampiima, the assistant superintendent of police who also doubles as the traffic police spokesperson said bus drivers and boda boda riders must carry their driving permits and helmets respectively.

“We cannot keep begging people to respect traffic rules, we have done our best to help them, it is now time for them to face the police’’, she said.

The police link most of the accidents to reckless driving, including texting while driving as well as other human errors, yet all these could be avoided if drivers paid attention on the road.

Although the Ugandan police have not been strict on punishing those who text while driving or those who answer calls, it is one of the major causes of accidents among Uganda road users.

There is a saying in the public domain that goes “if you can drive in Uganda, you can drive anywhere in the world,’’ because of the poor driving habits and the bad roads that require sanity and alertness all the time.

Juliet Mbugua, a Kenyan lorry driver says it is very dangerous to drive while texting because then, many road users’ lives are at risk.

“If you must answer the call, put the phone on loud speaker and concentrate on the road,” she advises.

As measures to curb this vice, the Uganda government issued a ban on using mobile phone while driving and declared it as an offence that attracts a fine of 100,000 shillings and arrest.

Eyes on the road

The Traffic and Road Safety amended law recommends using hearing devices while speaking on the phone. This way, your eyes are not distracted by the phone display and your hands stay on the steering wheel.

General Katumba Wamala, the Minister of Works and Transport, recently flagged the use of hand-held mobile phones while driving as a targeted offence that is punishable by law.

Even if you think yourself an experienced driver, always follow road rules and regulations because when on the road, lives of thousands are in your hands. Don’t Text and Drive! If it can’t wait, park first then resume your journey once you have finished with whatever needed to be done.