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Why are we so phlegmatic about road safety in East Africa?2 min read

Over the Christmas holiday I took several buses, motorcycle taxis and private hires in Uganda. In every situation the driver drove as fast as they could, cutting corners at breakneck speeds like a serpent among the hills. In all vehicles but one, the seat belts were either maimed or non-existent. I would remind myself of the countless lives that have been saved by the seat belt.

Public forms of transportation have a really bad safety record in Africa. While driving in Uganda, Rwanda’s neighbor, you are 352 times more likely to die on the road than the UK. In fact the world health organization puts road deaths as the 2nd biggest killer on the continent behind HIV/AIDS. So why are people still phlegmatic about road deaths?

In most of my experiences, horrors of road deaths are told with a fateful note, attributed to the victims clocks expiring, it was time! Carnage associated with drunk driving is rebuked, over speeding sometimes punished yet the fateful end of so many unattributed and left to chance.

In so many of the vehicles, religious music is played loudly, somehow to evoke good luck, stop the angels and demons of death. Why do we leave so much to chance?

There are several proven tactics to increase road safety, from the basic hardware such as safety belts to increased road safety awareness campaigns. Several soft campaigns such as those encouraging the PSV occupants to speak out against careless driving to automated speeding ticketing systems.

In the developing world a less succinct problems exists with a lot of cultural and religious constraints. You will wait several hours in a bus stagnant and the driver then drives at light speed to the destinations, warping over bumps and chatting animatedly on the phone.

Solutions to this problem have to address monitoring to detect bad drivers,reactionary systems to stop carnage in its tracks and investing in safety hardware. At SafeMotos we are approaching this problem by using smartphones to continually monitor drivers once they are on the road, cutting of drivers who go below the 90/100 threshold and proving extra safe helmets with chin protection. We hope that similar parties can attempt to slay this monster that weighs in on our continent.


SafeMotos is a smart phone app that makes Rwanda’s motos safer and more convenient.We take Kigali’s best drivers, watch how they drive using a smartphone’s accelerometer, gyroscope and GPS chip then only connect you to drivers we know will give you a great experience.

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