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Driving tips for holiday season

The Christmas season is the deadliest on Ugandan roads according to Annual Crime and Traffic/ Road Safety Reports. In 2013, for example, 283 fatal accidents happened during December; compared to say 198 in January.

The report noted that the month of December ranked highest for total number of collisions and June showed the lowest number of total collisions. This is attributed to the heavy traffic flow as people travel upcountry for Christmas and New Year festivities.

In 2014, there were 244 fatal accidents in December – the highest, compare to the lowest; 185 in April.

Note also that although the highest number of accidents occur in Kampala – because of the heavy concentration of traffic, up to 80% of total accidents occur outside of Kampala.

According to police, most of these accidents are caused by three human errors; namely reckless driving, careless driving, and careless pedestrians.

Most of the accidents occur involve the so-called mycars and most occur in the Greater Masaka region and western Uganda. But boda boda cyclists are the most killed on the roads.

The most likely time for one to be involved in an accident in Uganda is between 6pm and 9pm. This is mainly because of the heavy traffic on the roads during this period. The safest time on the road is from 1am to 5pm when most people are asleep.

During the day, the most dangerous time on the roads in Uganda is 1pm to 8pm.

To avoid becoming another December accident fatality statistic, consider the following safe long distance holiday driving tips:

  1. Prepare your car – have it serviced and check that you are prepared for emergencies. Essentials under this heading include spare tyre, jack and tyre iron, jumpers, emergence signaling devices, flashlight, fire extinguisher, and simple tool kit including a multipurpose knife, blanket, first aid kit.
  2. Prepare yourself – be rested before a long drive, plan the trip so you share the driving and take regular breaks to avoid fatigue.
  3. If you plan to have a drink – plan not to drive.
  4. If you have children in the car ensure they are in the appropriate child restraint.
  5. If you’re travelling with pets make sure they are restrained – for everybody’s safety.
  6. Brush up on good driving techniques.

When setting off on a long trip don’t leave too early in the morning because your body clock believes you should still be asleep.

Before taking off check engine oil and coolant levels and set tyre pressure at correct level for amount of load you will be carrying (passengers and luggage) and type of road you will be driving on.

While on the road, ensure you stay alert. There are signs of driver fatigue that you must look out for. These include yawning, sweaty hands, tired eyes, poor concentration, restlessness, drowsiness, boredom, slow reactions, and over-steering.

If you notice any of these signs, hand over to another driver or stop and rest for 15 minutes every two hours.



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