Distracted driving is fast becoming a severe and growing threat to road safety in Uganda today. With a large number of mobile phone users in Uganda and the high-speed addition of new in-vehicle communication systems, this risk is likely to grow for years to come. Studies have shown that using a hand-held or hands-free mobile phone while driving can cause a major distraction, and largely increases the danger of being involved in a crash or near crash. Here are some tips shared by Car Rental Uganda, one of the most known car rental agencies in Uganda. These guidelines will help you understand when and how to use your mobile and still not be on the wrong side of the laws!
Those who use a mobile phone, whether hand-held or hands-free when driving:
- become disoriented and not aware of road conditions
- miss road signs
- may not be able to manage proper lane position and a safe speed
- respond more slowly, take longer to brake and longer to stop
- are more prone to enter risky gaps in traffic
- are more prone to ‘tailgate’ the vehicle in front
- become more stressed and discouraged
Therefore drivers using mobiles are four times more likely to be involved in a crash. Note that this risk rolls in for both hand-held and hands-free phones, as the problems are triggered generally by the mental distraction and divided attention such as making a phone call, or text messaging while driving. Because of this, the Uganda government made it illegal to use a mobile phone while driving.
You should not use your phone while driving in Uganda because it is outright disrespectful to other road users. For that split second or two when the driver is distracted, accidents usually happen. I bet the sorts of ‘accidents’ that come to mind are: bumping into the car in front of you, jumping a red light, missing one’s turning or ignoring a zebra crossing. You can hit a pothole or ramming into a boda boda.
Such inconveniences could consequently wreck your day. It is when you look closer that you will be shocked at the devastation such a simple thing as answering a phone call while driving can do.
The police can stop you if they think you are distracted, even if your phone or sat-nav is hands-free.
In Uganda You can only use your mobile phone in a vehicle:
- to call 999 or in response to a genuine emergency where it is unsafe or impracticable to stop
- if you are safely parked
- if you are a passenger
If you are caught using a hand-held mobile phone or similar device while driving or riding, you’ll get an automatic fixed penalty notice and your case is taken to court.
Using a mobile phone while driving involves,
Making or receiving calls send or receive picture and text messages, accessing the internet. Using other devices for sending or receiving data whilst driving is also an offence which includes Black Berries and Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) if they have a mobile phone built in. If you are an employer, you can be prosecuted if you ask employees to make or receive calls while driving.
Take note of the phone usage while on the Ugandan roads.