In life, we all have plans, ambitions and accomplishments that we would like to achieve. Death or incapacitation can be among the major reasons that fail some people to achieve their colorful dreams; we never want to hear the heartbreaking news of the death of our friends or loved ones.
The good news is that some of these causes of death of our loved ones are preventable. This literary means that some of our people would probably still be here with us, if we had taken appropriate choices on road to prevent accidents, one of the leading causes of death.
The 2018 World Health Organization Report ranks road accidents as the eighth leading cause of death, globally. The report indicates that 1.35 million people die from road traffic crashes every year, world-over; that’s nearly 3700 people dying on the world’s roads every day; tens of millions more are injured or disabled every year… people who suffer life-altering injuries with long lasting effects.
One of the most heart-breaking statistics in this report is that road traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for people aged between 5 and 29 years – an age group considered not only to be the most productive or promising, but also the future generation.
In Rwanda, about 5000 road crashes were registered last year claiming lives of about 700 people and seriously injuring 2000 others.
Motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians account for about 54 per cent of road traffic victims. These lives are too many and too precious to be lost.
These losses take a huge toll on families and communities. The cost of emergency response, healthcare and human grief is immeasurable, yet preventable.
Last year’s road accidents destroyed over 3000 property in which about Rwf20 billion was spent in compensation.
Statistics show that most of the road traffic accidents are caused by reckless human behaviors on roads.
The significant increase in the use of mobile phones has led to an increase in distracted driving. Equally, phone usage by pedestrians distracts them while crossing roads, which is one of the causes of accidents. Out of the 5000 accidents recorded last year, at least 2000 of them resulted from use of phone while driving or crossing the road.
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, speeding and a failure to wear seat-belts or helmets for those using motorcycles are as well causes of fatalities on roads. All these are avoidable behaviors.
Law enforcement organs have taken measures against road accidents and recently, technology is proving to be a game-changer.
Police forces are increasingly realizing the need for high performance connectivity and the need for real-time access to information.
In recent years, the contribution of technology to the improvement of road safety has been significant. In the developed world, deployment of technology in vehicle safety is one of the main focuses aiming to reduce road accidents and their ensuing damage.
Using new technology such as smart traffic light and traffic control systems, artificial intelligence, the use of telematics and automotive technology can contribute to prevent and reduce the number of road related accidents and improve road safety.
Mobile network and fast data transmission solutions can be used, for instance, to collect data on vehicles on the road and condition of roads, as well to provide real-time information and warnings, ultimately with the objective of reducing road accidents and, ultimately, saving lives.
This is the direction that Rwanda National Police (RNP) is taking. RNP has embraced E-Policing as a way to service excellence in traffic related services. The online registration for aspiring drivers, checking results, online booking for moto-vehicle mechanical inspection, e-fines (allows users to pay for traffic fines online or using mobile money system); the automated driver’s testing centre (under construction); computer-based examination centre; all these are part of the wider technological direction the force is taking.
In order to minimise accidents and other crimes, highly efficient roadside and highway closed- circuit television (CCTV) have been introduced and are fitted with number plate identification software that immediately sends an SMS to the registered owner of the automobile informing them of the violation committed and the corresponding traffic ticket.
The technology helps to capture real time information, give factual evidence to facilitate investigations and also to reduce human contact which could give room for corruption.
Social media has aggressively claimed its space not only in the social life of most of the people but also in the professional and business environment. RNP has not been left behind in sharing security and safety tips and actively engaging the public on social media.
Timely responses on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, messages shared on sound cloud and Youtube, updates on the website have all boosted relations with the general public, thus community policing via technology.
Toll-free lines; 112 (emergency), 113 (traffic accidents), 118 (Traffic Police Queries), 3511 (Abuse by Police officer); all these are e-services designed to serve the people better and involve them in response and preventive mechanisms against accidents as we shift from law enforcement, to choice and ultimately to making road safety a cultural heritage.
BY CIP RICHARD NKUBITO
The Express News