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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 November 2005, 18:59 GMT
How safe are your roads?
A mangled car after a crash

As the United Nations adopts a key resolution to reduce death and injury on the roads, is Africa taking road safety seriously?

Globally, road accidents kill 1.2m people and injure millions more and according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), developing countries account for 85% of world traffic fatalities.

In Africa, pedestrians and passengers, as opposed to drivers, are worst hit, with children making up a large number of those killed.

The UN has urged member states to implement the WHO's recommendations on the use of seat belts, helmets, speed checks, drink-driving, speed control and infrastructure.

What is the main cause of road accidents in your country? Do you think the situation is as serious as the UN is saying? What personal experience do you have? Who should take responsibility for road safety? Are there simple measures one can take?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Your comments:

Taxi drivers put money first and passengers' and pedestrians' lives second
Patrick Ayumu, Ghana
Taxis drivers and local commercial minibuses or "trotros", kill several innocent pedestrians every year through reckless driving. Taxi drivers put money first and passengers and pedestrian lives second. They drive with blatant disregard to human life. When reckless driving meets bad road and traffic systems; the consequences are anybody's guess.
Patrick Ayumu, Ghana

In Botswana road accidents are on the increase. Motorists tend to talk on cellular phones while driving. Speeding, drinking, driving and cattle on the roads are some of the main causes of road accidents. As road users we must work with the government to make sure our roads are safe. Stiff penalties must be imposed on all the culprits.
Boniface Keakabetse, Botswana

Flesh, metal and speed can be a fatal combination mixed with incompetence, naivety or alcohol
Arnaud Ntirenganya, Rwanda/Cameroon
Before you travel in Cameroon during the month of December, you have to say your prayers. Many accidents are recorded in this period. Safety measures like compulsory seat belts, speeding restrictions, better roads and vehicle designs can have dramatic results. Flesh, metal and speed can be a fatal combination mixed with incompetence, naivety or alcohol. Deaths caused by dangerous driving are every bit as tragic and criminal as murder, but the law often fails to reflect this.
Arnaud Emmanuel Ntirenganya, Bamenda, Rwanda/Cameroon

I am very sorry when I see this death and injury. When will it stop? Perhaps the United Nations should provide training for drivers.
Adamu Alehegn, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

I was in Nigeria early this year and my experiences on the road were frightening. The roads are poorly maintained, there are no speed limits, and road signs are non existent. Worse still, the average Nigerian driver has no regard for other road users. Fatal crashes are a daily occurrence and will continue to be so until the government adopts a maintenance culture, clamp down on unlicensed drivers and applies heavy penalties for dangerous driving.
Adewale Adebanjo, London, UK

Passengers should be their own police officers by admonishing over speeding drivers
Besenty Gomez, The Gambia

We can make road accidents history if only we value our lives. Passengers should be their own police officers by admonishing over speeding drivers. It's unfortunate that some passengers want to reach their destinations sooner and don't care much about the speed limit required.Traffic police officers cannot be everywhere to see traffic defaulters and so passengers should take up their role and make sure traffic rules are adhered to. I witnessed a road accident that took the life of a dear one and left others paralysed for life. This affected me for years and made me turn to an ununiformed police officer.
Besenty Gomez, Kitty village, The Gambia

In Rwanda roads are fairly safe for one reason: The government requires that all drivers in the New-Rwanda observe the speed limit lest you lose your driving privileges. There are traffic police on all roads heading up country to enforce traffic safety measures. Breaking such laws is a serious offence in Rwanda as opposed to her neighbours like Uganda and Burundi where, when stopped by a police officer you know what they need - Chai (which means tea in Swahili) and that is an inducement.
D'amour Sharangabo, Vancouver, Canada

The problem for us in Rwanda is that the roads are not for cars only. Drivers share the most narrow roads with pedestrians, cows, chicken, bicycles, home-made sisal soccer balls, and hawkers who throw everything from bananas to fish at your windscreen.
Ivan Rugema, Cape Town, South Africa

Our roads are the most hazardous south of the Equator. A former workmate lost her two children when they were going to spend summer holidays with an uncle in Chipata. That lady has never been the same again physically, socially and mentally. My own first cousin was knocked down on the streets of Lusaka on the so called Zebra crossing that our drivers do not recognise. She was 18. It was a great loss to our family. I attribute these accidents to bad driving due to lack of proper driving instructors. Those that issue licenses are also to blame because they are just bribed and within a whiff of a second, someone has been authorised to drive a car regardless of how conversant they are with the road safety procedure.
Shuttie F.N.Libuta, Kitwe/Zambia

In the US where I live, roads are fine. But people are still being killed every day. This is due to driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs or violation of safety regulations. Last week, some religious leaders from my clan went to Canada to preach there. On their way back to States, they were involved in an accident which killed one of the most revere and charismatic pastor in our society. The government can do all means to protect people like pedestrians, but what about other fellow drivers whom we share roads with them?
Pal Gatkuoth Deng, USA

A lot of people driving on the roads do not know anything about traffic code
Kingsley Ezenekwe, Lagos, Nigeria

The worst problem we face on the roads is ignorance. A lot of people driving on the roads do not know anything about traffic code. The worst are motorcycle taxi operators called "Okada". They are reckless and cause many accidents. Whenever any of them has a problem with a vehicle, his colleagues swarm around the vehicle and intimidate the driver into accepting responsibility for the accident.
Kingsley Ezenekwe, Lagos, Nigeria

In Somalia, defective vehicles, road side bombs and 14 years of civil war have left the country with the worst roads on this planet. It's some places, it's better to be hit by a car than roadside bombs.
Kayse, Minnesota, USA

The roads in Malawi are still bad but significantly better than other countries I have visited such as Kenya and Tanzania. Roads are safer with police checkpoints every 100km (although quite corrupt) they do keep drivers a bit safer including the crazy matatu drivers!
Laura Hodder, Malawi

Roads in Malawi do not have appropriate road signs to warn approaching drivers of sharp corners or narrow bridges.
Mateso Kazembe, Zomba, Malawi

As a young lad in the 1980s, riding to school in Nigeria was fun. There were no potholes, you would see road safety marshals on red alert for any emergency. But from the early 1990s, all structures and institutions became politicised leading to infrastructural decay and corruption.
Duniya Shaibu Ekele, Abuja, Nigeria

I got my driving licence for a paltry sum of money without even going for a driving test or school
Mayor Collins Kanayo, Nigeria

In Nigeria, any thing works so long as there are kick-backs involved. I got my driving licence for a paltry sum of money without even going for a driving test or school.
Mayor Collins Kanayo, Nigeria

Some changes have taken place on Ugandan roads in the past year. Compulsory wearing of seat belts has been introduced and anybody caught not wearing one, is fined on the spot. Whether it has made any difference, remains to be seen. Unfortunately, as Ahmed Kateregga Musaazi has written, "boarder boarders" are the current biggest menace on Ugandan roads.
Hellen Kerali, Ugandan in Washington

In Kenya, more than 3,000 people die yearly from road accidents while several others are left disabled. There are several causes of accidents including reckless driving, dilapidated roads and lack of road safety education to school children. Recent stringent regulations introduced in the public transport sector have not assisted in stemming the accidents.
David Gichana, Kenya

I was maimed by a driver who turned right in front of me. That was six years ago. Did the driver have a valid licence? You can never know since one can buy them for between R250 - R1000. How do you change the mindset of a nation?
Eddie Roberts, South Africa

In the Rif (North-Morocco), there are no good roads. And the bad roads in the city and the countryside are used by everyone, crossing sheep and donkeys also pose a threat to road safety. Besides the bad roads, the cars used in Morocco are old and in very bad shape.
Moussa, Nador, Morocco

BBC, you really want to make the continent better because you have come up with relevant topics this time round. Road accidents are caused by the failure to enforce traffic laws. For the 10 years I lived in Kenya, I used to travel along the Thika to Nairobi road, Monday to Friday. Every day I would see a dead body or dog lying on the road. This problem can only be controlled if the government takes it seriously.
Peter Tuach, Minnesota, USA

Malawian pedestrians are not scared of cars. They are only scared of rain, so they say. This attitude is responsible for many accidents involving pedestrians.
Lawrence Mpekansambo, Zomba, Malawi

Our road planners are to blame for road accidents. How can roads be designed for a speed of 80km/hr when we know pretty well that the slowest speed on these roads are above 100km/hr. We should match road designs with today's reality.
Hankie Uluko, Lilongwe, Malawi

Innocent lives could be protected
Bernard Wundaninge, Malawi
Road accidents occur almost everyday here in Malawi. We have poor road conditions, speeding and lack of infrastructure. The governments of Africa should take steps like removing un-roadworthy vehicles. There should be stiffer penalties if one is found guilty of road offences. Innocent lives could be protected.
Bernard Wundaninge Mwafuliwa Kamenya, Dwangwa, Malawi

Here in South Africa most of the roads are in good condition with the exception of a few, of course. However, accidents continue to occur as a result of lack of discipline from individuals; motorists, pedestrians, and officials. You find people driving recklessly and not taking into consideration other road users, some even drive under the influence of drugs. Pedestrians also do the same thing by drinking and walking in the roads. Then lazy, corrupt, and negligent officials accelerate the bad habits occurring on roads.
Caesar Nkambule, Nelspruit, South Africa

In Liberia the roads are in a deplorable state and many pedestrians are killed when drivers try to evade potholes. The government should be blamed for the accidents. They should make sure roads are in good conditions for both the pedestrians and the drivers.
Michael Alladin, Monrovia, Liberia

Pedestrians have the right of way in Zambia but if you believe that you are a dead man!
Mfikeyi Makayi, Zambian/USA
Pedestrians have the right of way in Zambia but if you believe that you are a dead man! Cars, trucks and buses will zoom right through with no care, and if you are hit, its your fault. There are too few pedestrians crossings. The construction and continual maintenance of roads is poor and when the heavy rains come, the so-called rehabilitated road ends up with bigger potholes than before! It is unacceptable.
Mfikeyi Makayi, Zambian in USA

The situation on our roads is a serious one. We witness accidents almost every other day. Personally, I have been involved in several accidents and only last week I sustained injures from another accident. Government and organisations should take responsibility for road safety.
Lizzie Kwaghbo, Makurdi, Nigeria

Defective vehicles, reckless driving all contribute and point to one major weakness: poor policing and enforcing of rules. Traffic fines are not deterrent.
Timothy, Harare, Zimbabwe

Pedestrians do not have the right of way in Africa
Omorodion Osula, Nigerian/USA

The situation is very pathetic in Edo, Nigeria. When it rains, all the potholes are filled with water. Another reason is poor driving education and lack of road signs. Pedestrians do not have the right of way in Africa unlike in the West. You just have to use caution when crossing or walking on the side of the road.
Omorodion Osula, Boston, USA

Countries in Africa take this issue seriously but they have bigger problems to worry about such as hunger and poverty.
Aleefia, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

Roads in Kenya are, overall, horrendous. And while the potholes, unclear markings and scarcity of city-roads is a huge problem, the biggest problem is the state of the driving itself. Apparently driving schools and "they-who-offer-licences" are given chai (bribery), left and right in order to put bad, poorly trained and dangerous drivers behind powerful vehicles.
Tegan Diercks, Nairobi, Kenya

The most significant cause for road accidents in Uganda are motor bikes popularly known as boarder-boarder. The riders are not trained many of them not licensed and therefore don't know traffic regulations.
Ahmed Kateregga Musaazi, Kampala, Uganda

A lot of factors contribute to road accidents in Africa. The main ones are illiterate drivers who can not read road signs, inadequate road signs, bribery and corruption. New drivers pay bribes to acquire their licenses without taking a driving test or attending driving school. A bus designed to take 10 passengers will normally take more than its allowed capacity and most often police officers at road checks take bribery and look the other way.
Emmanuel Amonoo, Chicago, USA

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