Take action to end rising cases of road accidents

A wreckage of a 14 seater matatu that was involved in a road accident along Bomet-Narok highway. [ Gilbert Kimujtai, Standard]

A Saturday night road accident in Kitui claimed 11 lives. According to police reports, the vehicle carrying mourners was overloaded and speeding at the time of the accident.

These deaths add to the tally of road fatalities recorded between January 2022 and May 31, 2022. According to a recent report by the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA), by end of May this year, 1,912 people had lost their lives in road crashes. These figures represent a nine per cent increase in accidents for the same period last year.

Causes for the growing spate of accidents vary; from careless pedestrians, untrained motor cyclists, careless driving, speeding and defective vehicles that ply our roads. In the midst of all these, accusing fingers continually point at traffic police officers.

These officers are stationed every few kilometres along all major roads and though their mandate is to keep the roads safe, laxity and a propensity to look the other way after taking bribes from irresponsible motorists continue to consign many people to early graves.

Many are times overloaded and defective vehicles have claimed lives moments after being driven past police checks. There is need for deeper introspection among police officers to determine whether they live up to their mandate and citizen expectations.

Yet to blame traffic police officers alone is to be unfair. Pedestrians have been killed right under footbridges; travelers cram into fully loaded vehicles and whenever drivers speed or drive recklessly, passengers do not raise their objections. Such cannot be blamed on the police, which calls for personal responsibility in our collective will to stop road carnage.

Rogue motorists who know they can get away by simply bribing police officers have little respect for human life. Were police to take their work seriously and charge errant motorists, road accidents would come down markedly. Harsher penalties should be imposed on pedestrians who endanger their lives through acts of carelessness, especially where footbridges have been constructed.