KAMPALA – Traffic police has raised a red-flag over the increasing incidents of motorists speaking on their mobile phones while on the road.
ASP Faridah Nampiima – the traffic police spokesperson, said every day the number of drivers using their phone while driving was increasing on the roads – leading to crashes because of divided attention.
Nampiima revealed that 382 drivers had been arrested speaking on phones within the last two weeks – an increase of more than 100 per cent compared to 172 who were apprehended in the previous two weeks.
Road safety campaigners, among them Sam Bambanza – the executive director of Hope for Victims of Traffic Accidents – HOVITA, Peter Tibigambwa – the executive director Safe Way Right Way- SWRW and Joseph Komakech Ojambo – the executive director Responsible Divers Uganda, have on different occasions cited distractions as one of the leading causes of road crashes. And top of the distractions’ list is speaking on mobile phone while driving; WhatSapping while driving or watching music or tiktok videos.
Police insist that much as efforts in fighting the vice against traffic offenders have intensified – their presence was minimal.
Records show that from January 15 – 28, traffic police had arrested a total of 28,795 offenders – including 2,854 reckless drivers; 3,732 DMCs; 823 speeders; and 1,010 seat-belts’ defaulters.
Nampiima said police officers were thin on the ground and therefore could only arrest or penalise those they managed to observe abusing road regulations. She noted that there were many offenders who would go undetected – exposing passengers and other road users to crashes.
“Why do passengers in a bus, a taxi or motorcycle see a driver – speaking on phone or enjoying a meal while driving and they opt to remain silent?” wondered Nampiima adding: “It is after a crash that passengers start narrating how the driver was speaking on phone, speeding or eating while driving.”
She noted that 134 people had died in road crashes in the last two weeks. In addition, 564 who survived with nasty injuries were undergoing treatment at various health facilities.
The biggest number of victims of both fatalities and injuries were pedestrians and Boda-boda riders – who condemned for riding recklessly, overtaking at dangerous road points, not wearing crash helmets, riding while drunk or taking alcohol in sachets.
Hussein Sebalamu, a Boda-boda rider said many of his colleagues had failed to heed to safety instruction.
Sebalamu said if all Boda-boda riders and their passengers isolated those who violate road rules –safety on the road would increase.
Meanwhile police have said the operation against Boda-boda riders without driving licences won’t stop until everyone had acquired one.
Siraje Mutyaba, the Kampala central Boda-boda leader said they were in support of police operations against riding without licences.