Gov’t Urged to End 600 Annual Children Deaths in Roads Crashes

Road safety experts have called on the government to urgently address the alarming number of children dying on Ugandan roads by establishing safe school zones. According to a comprehensive global review conducted by Hope for Victims for Traffic Accidents (HOVITA), Uganda is among the countries with the highest rates of child fatalities on the roads worldwide.

HOVITA’s executive director, Sam Bambanza, expressed concern that Uganda is losing an average of two children per day in road crashes. He emphasized the immediate need to take action and save innocent lives lost while children travel to and from school.

Based on the organization’s assessment over a five-year period using data from the Uganda Police Force’s Directorate of Traffic and Road Safety (DTRS), it has been revealed that Uganda loses approximately 600 children each year due to road crashes.

In 2022, there were 650 child fatalities from traffic road crashes, comprising 395 males and 255 females. In 2021, the number of children who lost their lives in road crashes was 628, while it stood at 607 in 2020, and 670 in 2019.

Bambanza pointed out that the government can effectively reduce traffic crashes involving children by implementing a 30 km/h speed limit in all school zones. He stressed that the primary reasons behind these tragic incidents are speeding beyond the limits, non-compliance with traffic signs, and failure to observe special zones like school areas. Road traffic crashes are a significant global cause of death, leading to the loss of numerous children daily, affecting countless families.

Fred Kiapi, the project manager of HOVITA, highlighted that in addition to children (below 18 years), a significant number of youths aged 18 to 24 also lose their lives on the roads every year. Most of these young individuals are high school students, university freshmen, or recent graduates.

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Kiapi expressed deep concern over losing 703 young people aged 18 to 24 in crashes the previous year and emphasized the urgency of addressing this issue. In 2021, 657 youths aged 18 to 24 died in road crashes. He urged everyone to take action and prevent the loss of young lives on the roads, which impacts the future of the country.

The World Health Organization (W.H.O) identifies traffic crashes as the leading cause of death among children and youth aged 5 to 29 years, surpassing causes like HIV/AIDS and diarrhea. Bambanza and Kiapi stressed that implementing safe school zones around educational institutions would protect pupils, students, parents, and school staff.

“Establishing school zones involves placing school signs and implementing reduced speed limits, typically 30 km/h in high-income countries and 50 km/h in low and middle-income countries,” Kiapi explained.

Bambanza and Kiapi clarified that school zones are distinct from student catchment areas or enrollment boundaries. While catchment areas refer to the geographical zones from which students are eligible to attend a specific school, encompassing various areas like school sports zones and academic zones, school zones specifically prioritize safety measures in the vicinity of educational institutions.

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