Last Sunday my daughter, a primary three pupil, asked me to help her with her home work. One of the questions was asking for four major causes of road accidents. Children always expect adults to have answers to their homework questions. Before I set out to give her answers I read the question again and took keen interest in the term “major causes’.
The question never wanted just causes of road accidents but major causes. This means that there was a need to rank the causes of road accidents from the most significant to the least. My answers were as follows: Distracted driving, over speeding, drunk driving and reckless driving.
You and I are aware that in modern times the number one cause of car accidents is not a criminal that drove drunk, sped or ran a red light. Distracted drivers are the top cause of car accidents in the world today. A distracted driver is a motorist that diverts his or her attention from the road, usually to talk on a cell phone, send a text message, eat food and look at an indecently dressed person or another activity by the road side.
Over speeding, obviously, takes the second place. If you have been on highways you have seen many drivers ignore the speed limit and drive over the limit. Speed kills, and traveling above the speed limit is an easy way to cause a car accident. The faster you drive, the slower your reaction time will be if you need to prevent an auto accident. In most car accidents, speed is likely to be mentioned as the cause.
In the third place comes the drunk driving. Inveterate drunkards will tell you that when you drink, you lose the ability to focus and function properly and it is very dangerous when operating a vehicle. Driving under the influence of alcohol causes car accidents every day. On many occasions drivers are cautioned always to use a designated driver if you go out and drink. Despite these warnings more people still drink and drive.
Reckless driving appears to sum up all the above three causes. If you don’t drive carefully, you may end up in a needless car accident. That’s what often happens to reckless drivers who speed, change lanes too quickly or tailgate before causing a car accident. Reckless drivers are often impatient in traffic so you have to be sure to take extra care around aggressive drivers. It’s clear that causes like vehicle in poor mechanical condition takes almost the lowest significance.
Does that mean that design effect is not a serious cause of accidents? No product is ever made perfectly, and cars are no different. Automobiles have hundreds of parts, and any of those defective parts can cause a serious car accident. Many automakers have had problems with design defects in the past, including Ford Explorer rollover accidents and Toyota’s unintended acceleration crashes. But these causes are minimal and do not cause a significant impact. If annual vehicle inspection is meant to check on the occurrence of road accidents due to mechanical issues, it’s likely to cause no significant change.
According to Association for Safe International Road travel, annual global road crash statistics show that nearly 1.3 million people die in road crashes each year, on average 3,287 deaths a day and more than a half of all road accidents occur among young people.
Does this mean that young people are the ones driving cars under poor mechanical conditions? More to that, road crashes are the leading cause of death worldwide among young people ages. This is more related to distract driving, over speeding and reckless driving than driving vehicles in poor mechanical condition.
There is one question that authorities try to question: What exactly is causing accidents on the Ugandan roads? We cannot pretend and peg the blame on vehicles under poor mechanical conditions. How many of the vehicles involved in road accidents have been tested and found in poor mechanical conditions? The truth is that even traffic police reports on most accidents highlight distracted driving, over speeding and reckless driving. And if vehicles are in poor mechanical conditions, who allows second hand cars into this country? Why create a problem and then later appear masquerading that you solution. This is much more than trying to save the lives of Ugandans. This is about minting money from people who own cars.
This is what smart people should have done. Simply declare that all vehicles in Uganda should pay an annual fee of one hundred twenty thousand shilling at Stanbic bank and get issued with a receipt. No vehicle shall be allowed to move on the Ugandan roads without that receipt. You may baptize it as a contribution to the roads fund.
This carries more meaning than charging a similar figure under the name ‘annual vehicles inspection’. I’m sure a motor vehicle owner who has paid the annual inspection fee can request that authorities don’t inspect his car and his request be granted.
After all, the money is received. We have not forgotten that road traffic crashes rank as the 9th leading cause of death and account for 2.2% of all deaths globally and unless action is taken, road traffic injuries are predicted to become the fifth leading cause of death by 2030.