The latest World Health Organisation (WHO) global status report on road safety 2023 has shown great improvement in Rwanda’s road safety data and outcomes estimating a decrease of 15 to 12/100,000 road accidents annually.
The report the fifth edition since 2009), released this December 13 showed that Rwanda reported 593 fatalities in 2018 (population of 11.92m) and 655 fatalities in 2021 (with an increased population of 13.46m) while numbers of vehicles also increased in the same period from 180.140 to 270.600.
The report shows that more male fatalities were reported in Rwanda (86.2%) compared to women (13.8%) and Rwanda had an improved Confidence Interval (CI).
A CI is an important statistic that helps us know how precise the estimate is. A smaller CI is better, meaning the data are more reliable. Comparing Rwandan road deaths in 2018 vs 2023, the CI comes to 662 in 2018 vs 555 in 2023.
Since the last report in 2018, Rwanda has installed speed cameras on all major roads, installed speed governors in passenger buses and ambulances, created pedestrian path ways and cyclist’s routes on main roads and road safety campaigns (Gerayo Mahoro) and put in place tighter fines for offenders.
According to traffic police figures, between January 2020 and November 2022, a total of 21,459 road accidents were recorded. About 4,000 were recorded in 2020 and another 8,000 in 2021, while 8500 were recorded in 2022.
Most accidents resulted from speeding, dangerous maneuvers, holding onto moving trucks on hilly roads, overloading, cyclists operating at night, riding when intoxicated, violating traffic lights and other traffic rules.
Rwanda traffic police department Senior Superintendent(SSP) René Irere believes that the number of fatalities has declined on Rwanda roads, courtesy of the new technology among other contributors.
Health People Rwanda (HPR)- a Local organisation advocating for road safety believes that education of the population is key in addressing the risk factors associated with road accidents and with limited resources they have started teaching children in schools.
“We have educated groups of students in 15 schools. We are on the stage of reaching all students population and revising our training curriculum so that it can be added to the school curriculum,” said Pacifique Muyumbu, the HPR Project Coordinator
Some parent says that Rwanda needs to use all community meeting avenues to educate the wider community- For example; through the monthly Umuganda general cleaning meetings and the bi-monthly Car Free Day sports activities to have decentralize the education programs from national to village level and even at work places.
The report showed that there were an estimated 1.19 million road traffic deaths in 2021 – a 5% drop when compared to the 1.25 million deaths in 2010 and more than half of all UN Member States reduced road traffic deaths between 2010 and 2021.
“The slight overall reduction in deaths occurred despite the global motor vehicle fleet more than doubling, road networks significantly expanding, and the global population rising by nearly a billion.
This shows that efforts to improve road safety are working but fall far short of what is needed to meet the target of the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021–2030 to halve deaths by 2030,” the report said.
“We are still far away from the 50% target that was set for 2030,” said María Seguí-Gómez, the lead report coordinator.
John Todd, the United Nations Secretary-General (UNSG) Special Envoy for Road Safety, said that what has been done is not enough and roads remain a silent pandemic to see more than 2 deaths occurring per minute.
“We don’t have the vaccine for accidents but education is the only vaccine. We need to teach people simple remedies like using a helmet, seat belts and safe driving,” Todd said.
WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the carnage on roads is preventable. “We call on all countries to put people rather than cars at the centre of their transport systems, and ensure the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and other vulnerable road users,” He said.
This report was produced with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies. Since 2007, Bloomberg Philanthropies has committed $500 million to support road safety interventions in low- and middle-income countries and cities across the world.
Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies and WHO Global Ambassador for Non communicable Diseases and Injuries, who also wrote a foreword for the report said that his mission is to save and improve as many lives as possible.
“For more than a decade now, we’ve made encouraging progress together with the WHO and our partners. Still, as this new report makes clear, road safety demands stronger commitments from governments worldwide – and we’ll continue to urge more leaders to take lifesaving action.” Bloomberg said.