Do all that is possible to make driving safe and pleasurable

Data from the National Transport and Road Safety Authority (NTSA) shows a worrying trend in road accidents. While in the period between September 2016 and September 2017 those who died in road accidents were 2,053, the number has risen to 2,214 in the September 2017/2018 period.  Those who sustained serious injuries increased from 2,882 in 2017 to 3,302 in 2018.

These statistics paint a gloomy picture for road users whose safety is greatly jeopardised, yet it is by factors that can be avoided with a little conscious effort. This rise is attributed to among others, negligence by pedestrians, most of whom chose to cross roads at non-designated spots. Cases have been reported where pedestrians have been killed right under foot bridges.

Motor cyclists have also contributed to road accidents by their utter disregard for road safety rules. Many carry more than one passenger, don't wear helmets and too often, choose to ride on pedestrian walkways or weave dangerously between moving vehicles.

Besides, many of the riders have never been tested for competency and lack licenses. In one of the many road accidents documented in the recent past, 15 people died yesterday morning in an accident involving two buses at Gilgil on the Nairobi-Nakuru Highway. Indeed, NTSA has marked this section of road as the place where majority of accidents in the country occur. Regrettably, there are common causes of accidents on that, and many other roads.

Some of the causes are recklessness on the part of drivers who fail to make sound judgement regarding when and where to overtake, fatigue, un-roadworthy vehicles and the sprouting of too many open air markets that are right by the road’s edge.

At such crowded centres, people tend to cross the road without checking, even as drivers find it hard to drive through such sections. Given that most of the accidents happen during the night, there is need to revisit the night travel ban. Accidents were greatly reduced when the ban was in force.

Thankfully, the Kenya National Highways Authority has standardised nearly all the road bumps across and plans to spruce up road signage to make driving easy. Kenha should go beyond that and draw up policies that prohibit development around major highways. Shopping centres and petrol stations that grow around roads are potential  safety hazards.

Additionally, NTSA and the Traffic Police should move away from merely giving statistics to rigorously enforcing road safety regulations. The punishment being meted out to offenders appears to be not much of a deterrent, and sustained public awareness campaigns are markedly missing.

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National Transport and Road Safety AuthorityNTSARoad Accidents