The operation follows various serious accident reports largely caused by use of phone while driving, speeding, reckless maneuvers, mechanical faults and failure to respect right to way especially for pedestrians.
In an operation conducted along Nyabugogo-Muhima-City centre, for example, traffic officers caught about 45 vehicles within a space of one hour, whose drivers were using mobile handsets while driving.
“Driving while using the phone is one the serious problem that we see, and a major cause of accidents. A phone diverts the driver’s thinking and attention… it engages the brain. That’s why it’s one of the issues we are focusing on in this operation but also teaching passengers not to allow anything drivers do that can put their lives in danger,” Commissioner of Police (CP) Rafiki Mujiji, the commissioner for traffic and road safety, said.
“As we penalize drivers, we also want passengers to own their lives, call us and report bad driving, and where possible get out of that car. These operations and awareness will continue along roads across the country,” he added.
Accidents resulting from use of phone, over-speeding, bad maneuvers and violation of right to way account for about 90 percent of the total 78 serious accidents that occurred last month alone. These accidents involved majority private vehicles with motorcyclists, cyclists, and pedestrians the majority victims.
“Accidents caused by public and cargo vehicles reduced by 65 percent largely because of the installation of speed governor, which are now fitted in about 90 of automobiles in these two categories, but now the issue of speeding private vehicles coupled with use of phone is a common issue we are trying to address through both sensitization and also enforcing the law against errant drivers,” he said.
“When you are driving or riding keep in mind that there are other people using the same road, and who want to live and have families to look after like you,” CP Mujiji explained.
He also hinted on the ongoing revision of the law related to road traffic that will provide punitive penalties for offenders.
The proposed penalty for speaking on phone, for example, will increase tenfold from the current Rwf10, 000, enacted.
Similarly, there is likely to be an increase in jail term from the current maximum six months as well easing the process of revoking a driver’s license where necessary.
The current law is said to be weak and easily challenged in courts of law where only one person had his driver’s license revoked in the last four years out of hundreds of cases, while very few drivers whose recklessness result into loss of lives are convicted.