Journalists as contributors to safer roads

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This guide is produced as part of a project titled, ‘Strengthening the capacity of the media in Uganda to report on road safety policy, implemented by the African Centre for Media Excellence with support from the Global Road Safety Partnership.

Journalists hold a unique responsibility to challenge the narrative surrounding traffic collisions. The label “accident” is misleading. Often, these crashes are caused by things that can be fixed. Each screech of metal, each crumpled fender, tells a story not just of individual error, but of a complex interplay between human vulnerabilities and systemic flaws in our very road systems.

By reporting on the contributing factors, journalists can expose structural issues like inadequate infrastructure, outdated regulations, and insufficient public education campaigns. They can amplify the voices of those impacted, both victims and survivors, and illuminate the broader societal costs – the economic burden, the emotional trauma, the shattered lives.

Ultimately, considered reporting and storytelling pave the way for a future where collisions are not accepted as inevitable, but actively prevented, creating safer, more equitable roads for all.

Beyond the statistics, human stories
Numbers offer a sobering reality, but stories give it a beating heart. Journalists can amplify the impact by sharing the human cost of crashes, giving a platform to victims, survivors, and families forever burdened by road crashes. These personal accounts bring the issue home, reminding us that behind the statistics lie lives fractured and futures stolen.

Revealing hidden roots
By digging deeper than immediate causes, journalists can illuminate the systemic factors that shape how safe our roads are. This means scrutinising inadequate infrastructure, questioning lax enforcement, and exposing gaps in public education campaigns. It requires reporting on solutions beyond fixing individual mistakes and making the whole system safer for all.

Connections beyond collision
Road safety isn’t an isolated island. Every crash ripples through society, costing millions and stressing resources. Safer roads mean healthier people and a stronger economy. Journalists can reveal these connections, showcasing how safer roads translate to healthier communities and a more robust economy.

Equity in every mile
The burden of road crashes often falls heaviest on the shoulders of the marginalised. Children, pedestrians, and low-income communities bear the brunt of a system that favors speed and convenience over safety. Journalists can champion the cause of equity, urging policy changes that address these disparities and pave the way for equal safety across all lanes.

The power of change
Effective road safety hinges on strong policies and responsible governance. Journalists can become watchdogs, holding authorities accountable, analysing existing policies, and identifying gaps that leave us vulnerable. By reporting on evidence-based solutions and policy reforms, they can help build a framework that safeguards lives.

Deeper than reporting
Journalism doesn’t end with documenting; it can inspire action. Journalists can showcase successful interventions from other countries or cities, offering blueprints for progress. They can give a platform to experts and advocates, amplifying their calls for change and injecting evidence-based solutions into the public discourse. Journalists can also foster community engagement, facilitating dialogue between citizens, officials, and NGOs to co-create context-specific solutions and cultivate a culture of road safety that permeates every street corner.

About Post Author

ACME Mwalimu

The African Centre for Media Excellence's training unit, known as ACME Mwalimu, scours news platforms and online resources to curate the best training tips and resources for journalists and media organisations, empowering them to become impactful contributors to public debate and development. If you have a training tip or question, you can reach out to ACME Mwalimu at training[at]acme-ug.org.
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ACME Mwalimu

The African Centre for Media Excellence's training unit, known as ACME Mwalimu, scours news platforms and online resources to curate the best training tips and resources for journalists and media organisations, empowering them to become impactful contributors to public debate and development. If you have a training tip or question, you can reach out to ACME Mwalimu at training[at]acme-ug.org.

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