Road traffic noise exposure, awareness and practices of traffic police towards noise in Central Division, Kampala district, Uganda
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Background: Road traffic noise contributes more than 55% of total environmental noise in urban areas. In cities like Kampala, road traffic noise is the biggest cause of community noise especially near busy roads with higher traffic volumes and speeds. The traffic police is the most affected group since they are responsible for controlling the vehicle traffic. In Uganda, particularly Kampala Central division there is limited research which has been done to ascertain the levels of road traffic noise and assessment of awareness and practices of traffic police towards road traffic noise. Objective: To measure road traffic noise exposure and assess the awareness and practices of traffic police towards road traffic noise. This information will guide the planning and designing of appropriate interventions towards reducing noise pollution exposure and its related effects in central division of Kampala city. Methodology: A cross-sectional study employing both qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection was conducted in Kampala Central division. Semi-structured questionnaires were used to collect quantitative data from 60 traffic police personnel concerning their socio-demographics, awareness and practices in relation to road traffic noise. Key informant interview guides were used to collect qualitative data from five traffic police commanders. Data was collected by holding face to face interviews with the study participants. Noise at 10 road junctions was measured using a sound level meter. Quantitative data was analyzed using STATA and thematic content analysis was done for qualitative data. Results: Overall average road traffic noise levels measured were 80.7dB. Noise levels were highest in the evening 83.7dB and lowest in the afternoon 76.8dB. The study revealed that 90% (54/60) of the respondents had heard about road traffic noise, 95% (57/60) respondents admitted that there was a problem of road traffic noise in their work place and 95% (57/60) knew the sources of road traffic noise. Only 6.7% (4/60) of the respondents have had training on road traffic noise control. The mean working hours of the respondents was 9.5. The measures applied by the respondents to reduce exposure to road traffic noise were; working for few hours 50.6% (45/60) followed by often change of duty station 28.1% (25/60), use of PPEs at 14.6% (13/60) and others at 6.7%. Conclusion: The study indicated that Kampala Central division was suffering from higher levels of road traffic noise (80.7 dB (A)) as compared to standard stipulated by National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) (65 dB (A)). Traffic police personnel had good understanding regarding the source, health effects and measures to control and reduce exposure to road traffic noise compared to their practices regarding reducing exposure. NEMA and traffic police need to collaborate and enforce the road traffic noise standards and regulations.
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