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

Road safety experts have urged the government to swiftly address children deaths on Ugandan roads by establishing safe school zones. The global review on traffic crashes and safe school zones done by Hope for Victims for Traffic Accidents –HOVITA shows Uganda is one of the countries with the highest children mortality rates on the roads in the world.

HOVITA’s executive director, Sam Bambanza, said Uganda is losing two children per day in road crashes and this needs to be addressed as soon as possible to save the innocent souls perishing while going to or returning from school.

The organization’s assessment for the five years using the Uganda police force’s Directorate of Traffic and Road Safety (DTRS) data, shows on average Uganda loses 600 children every year in road crashes.

In 2022, traffic road crashes killed 650 children. The victims included 395 males and 255 females. In 2021, 600 lost their lives in road crashes, the children deaths stood at 628 in 2020, while 607 and 670 children perished in traffic crashes in 2019 and 2018 respectively.

Bambanza said the government can curb traffic crashes claiming lives of children by establishing a 30km/h speed limits in all school zones. “The primary reasons behind these tragedies include speeding beyond speed limits, non-compliance with traffic signs, and failure to observe special zones like school areas. Road traffic crashes are a significant cause of death globally, with thousands of families losing children daily,” Bambanza said.

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Fred Kiapi, HOVITA’s project manager, said despite the children deaths (below 18 years), there is also a significant number of youth aged 18 to 24 dying on roads every year. Most of these people are youth in high school, starting university or fresh graduates.

“I can’t imagine that we lost 703 young people aged 18 to 24 in crashes last year and we all kept quiet. Our 657 children aged 18-24 died in crashes in 2021. We are literally losing our country’s future in road crashes. We urge every person to wake up and save our children perishing on roads,” Kiapi said.

The World Health Organisation (W.H.O) ranks traffic crashes as leading cause of death among children and youth aged 5 to 29 years old, surpassing causes like HIV/AIDS and diarrhea. Bambanza and Kiapi said safe school zones around school areas would save pupils, students, parents, and school staff cross.

“When such areas a protected, it ensures safety for every individual around them. 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 said.

Bambanza and Kiapi explain that school zones differ from student catchment areas or enrollment boundaries. The catchment areas refer to the geographical areas from which students are eligible to attend a particular school, encompassing various zones such as school sports zones and academic zones. The catchment area is typically larger than the school zone.

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