To fight against accidents, it is necessary to renew the car fleet, raise awareness of respect for the Highway Code and prohibit the circulation of certain types of vehicles, believes researcher Yoro Dia.
Road accidents have become the main topic of news in Senegal at the start of 2023, in particular because of the tragedies that have occurred in Siquilo, in the center of the country, and Beard, in the North, which caused respectively 40 and 22 deaths and several injuries, during collisions between vehicles.
In recent years, there has been a modernization of road infrastructure and means of transport in Senegal with the construction of highways and roads in major urban centres.
Between 2012 and 2020, a linear of 2526 km of paved roads, 210 km of highways, 21 bridges and flyovers, 6673 km of rural tracks have been built, according to the Ministry of Infrastructure, Land Transport and Opening up.
In 2021, the State also set up a Land Transport Development Fund intended for the financing of investment and operation for the modernization of public transport systems.
Despite these efforts, road traffic has become denser in Senegal.
Traffic accidents are an increasingly worrying phenomenon due to their scale with damage in terms of loss of human life and significant material damage in the country.
A real atmosphere of general psychosis and a feeling of insecurity has been created by these fairly frequent accidents with more than 49 cases listed throughout Senegal between 611 and 2018, including 2020 deaths, according to statistics collected from the National Fire Brigade.
In our thesis to be presented in February 2023), we examine road accidents in Senegal from 2018 to 2020. And we have noted the aging of the Senegalese vehicle fleet, the non-respect of the Highway Code and the strong involvement of vehicles of the truck and van type for use in urban and freight transport.
Aging vehicle fleet
More than 40% of vehicles involved in accidents are over 20 years old, including trucks and vans for goods and urban transport. These accidents occurred between 12 p.m. and 18 p.m.
We are also witnessing the establishment of vehicle assembly plants such as SENBUS, inaugurated in 2003, in partnership with the Indian multinational, Tata Motors, aimed to produce 600 30-seat minibuses per year to meet national demand and region in mass transport vehicles.
We also note the establishment of many other structures evolving in the field of transport (travel agencies, driving schools, car parks for the sale of vehicles, etc.).
At the same time, the state reviewed the age limit for imported vehicles, which has been increased from 5 to 8 years. The decree raising the age of vehicles admitted for import into Senegal has been adopted since 2012 and, according to data provided by the various services such as customs, the number of vehicles imported increased, between 2011 and 2012, from 14 to 317, representing nearly 26% growth in the Senegalese vehicle fleet.
The number of registered vehicles increases in all regions of the country. In February 2021, there were 652 vehicles registered in Senegal.
This situation is not without consequences, because at the same time we see an increase in the number of road accidents.
Violation of the highway code
Regarding non-compliance with the Highway Code, we noted that 15,2% of accidents are due to non-compliance with the Highway Code.
Knowing and mastering the language of the road is a mandatory requirement for driving. Most rolling stock drivers have learned the rules of the road in driving schools. But despite the time spent in learning this important language of the road, in traffic, some drivers do not respect the Highway Code. In the middle of traffic, a fraction of a second of inattention can be fatal and dramatic.
Dangerous overtaking constitutes 13,55% of accidents. Many drivers do not respect the rules specific to this operation although they are written into the highway code. But users who are overwhelmed are also required to behave cautiously so as not to endanger other users.
Change of lane
Sudden lane changes are the cause of 2,85% of accidents. In all circumstances, even on familiar roads, the sudden change of lane should be avoided to fight against vehicle collisions which can cause bodily injury and material damage.
Reckless entry into traffic
Last but not least, 3,5% of accidents are due to reckless entry into traffic. Users must behave on the road in such a way that they do not cause any inconvenience or danger to other users. A careless entry by one of the users can cause damage not only for the author but also for other users.
Currently, in Senegal, there is a lack of studies to identify the cost of road accidents. This documentary constraint poses several problems, in particular the possibility of evaluating the various prevention programs.
Much remains to be done to improve road safety in Senegal. For this, we can put forward some proposals based on the results of our studies :
• Research in this area should be directed and developed in health economics.
• The State must sanction offenders by applying zero tolerance in cases of traffic violations, for example by preceding the immediate withdrawal of the driver's license and the impoundment of the vehicle.
It can, in this case, set up road courts with magistrates specialized in road traffic.
• Improving prevention by developing road safety education, in particular by including courses relating to the theme in school curricula, is also a solution.
• Insurance companies could use part of their resources to contribute to the prevention of road accidents.
• Emphasis must be placed on the fight against corruption at the level of technical controls.
• The renewal of the vehicle fleet must also be taken into account.
• Prohibiting the circulation of large vehicles such as trucks and vans for urban transport and goods during peak hours, from 12 p.m. to 18 p.m. when there is a peak in the flow of urban traffic is also a solution .
Yoro Dia, Searcher, Iba Der Thiam University of Thies
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