Dar es Salaam — Tanzania lost four people every day during the first half of this year due to road accidents, latest data from the Traffic Police Department show.
The data, availed to The Citizen last week, show that, on average, eight people sustained injuries from road accidents during the period under review.
In its report, the Traffic Police Division shows that at least eight accidents occurred everyday in the country from January to July 2019.
The number was, however, lower than the average of 11 accidents that occurred during the same period in 2018.
"The number of deaths stood at 744 during the first half of 2019, which is a 25 per cent decrease. In the same period of the previous year, 994 deaths were recorded," the assistant superintendent of police (ASP), Mr Deus Sokoni, from the Traffic Police Division told The Citizen.
The number of road accidents in the country dropped by 27 per cent, to 1,517, between January and June 2019 compared to 2,094 accidents during the same period last year.
A total of 1,529 persons were injured in accidents during the first half of 2019, a 27 per cent drop from 2,108 who were injured during the same period in 2018.
"Our target is to see the number of accidents go down by at least 35 per cent by December - and we are confident that we will achieve it," said ASP Sokoni. According to him, most of the accidents were caused by reckless driving.
Motorbike riders came second on the list of causes of road accidents, while overspeeding and carelessness of pedestrians came third and fourth respectively.
An analysis of the number of accidents and number of deaths shows that, for every two accidents, one person died while at least one person was injured in every accident.
Analysts attribute the progress in reduction of road accidents to a number of factors, including setting up of Global Positioning System (GPS) to monitor the direction and speed of upcountry buses and lorries.
"The-then Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (Sumatra) came up with this initiative in 2018, and the decrease in the number of accidents could partly be attributed to the system," said Tanzania Bus Owners Association (Taboa) executive secretary James Richard.
He, however, noted that carelessness on the part of some motorbike riders remains the greatest challenge facing road users in major urban centres.
"The Traffic Police could do justice by focusing all its efforts on those who ignore road signs and cause accidents," he said.
The union of drivers and bus conductors in Dar es Salaam - which is popularly known by its ki-Swahili acronym Uwamadar - believes that the solution to road accidents is a thorough evaluation of the ability and capability of drivers.
"It goes without saying that the time drivers spend in training is too short for them to master the profession - and this is why drivers' negligence tops the list of causes of road accidents," said the organisation's secretary general, Mr Abdalah Mbala.
Residents in major urban centres, he said, must also be trained on the use of vital road signs, including zebra crossing signs.
Alarming rates in Dar es Salaam
Despite a drop in road accidents, Dar es Salaam remains to be the region with the highest number of road traffic casualties.
The commercial capital accounted for 53 per cent of road accidents from January to March 2019 - with most of the accidents happening in Kinondoni and Ilala Districts.