Background: In October 2004, the Ugandan Police department deployed enhanced traffic safety patrols on the four major roads to the capital Kampala.
Objective: To assess the costs and potential effectiveness of increasing traffic enforcement in Uganda.
Methods: Record review and key informant interviews were conducted at 10 police stations along the highways that were patrolled. Monthly data on traffic citations and casualties were reviewed for January 2001 to December 2005; time series (ARIMA) regression was used to assess for a statistically significant change in traffic deaths. Costs were computed from the perspective of the police department in $US 2005. Cost offsets from savings to the health sector were not included.
Results: The annual cost of deploying the four squads of traffic patrols (20 officers, four vehicles, equipment, administration) is estimated at $72,000. Since deployment, the number of citations has increased substantially with a value of $327 311 annually. Monthly crash data pre- and post-intervention show a statistically significant 17% drop in road deaths after the intervention. The average cost-effectiveness of better road safety enforcement in Uganda is $603 per death averted or $27 per life year saved discounted at 3% (equivalent to 9% of Uganda’s $300 GDP per capita).
Conclusion: The costs of traffic safety enforcement are low in comparison to the potential number of lives saved and revenue generated. Increasing enforcement of existing traffic safety norms can prove to be an extremely cost-effective public health intervention in low-income countries, even from a government perspective.
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Competing interests: None.
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