Finally, a solution to PSV carnage

As we come to the end of the UN Global Road Safety Week, the Government, through National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA), and indeed all stakeholders and partners, acknowledges there remains much more to be done in road safety initiatives.

Enforcement of road safety especially in the PSV sub-sector is key, and NTSA has indeed deployed resources to this end. We continue to search for innovative means to reduce the carnage on our roads. In collaboration with the National Road Safety Trust through Georgetown University, USA, and other private sector participants, we have such an innovation in the Zusha! campaign.

Zusha! stickers will be placed inside PSVs in clear view of the passengers to empower them to express concerns directly to the PSV driver over reckless and dangerous driving. The stickers, ever-present in the passenger cabins, legitimise complaints and allow those who might otherwise feel powerless to voice their demands for what is surely their right: a safe ride.

A lottery run by Direct Line Assurance provides incentives to owners and drivers to keep the stickers in place and each week, any vehicle insured by the company and with stickers inserted is eligible to win a prize of Ksh15,000.

In previous campaigns, researchers from Georgetown University in the USA worked with Direct Line Assurance and other insurance companies to test the efficacy of the stickers, and found that vehicles with the stickers were up to 50 per cent less likely to be involved in an accident.

We know that giving passengers the authority and the right to speak their minds can be an important component of an effective multi-faceted strategy to improve PSV safety. We hope the public will rise to this call to action, and help make their next matatu ride a safer one.

Globally, road traffic crashes are responsible for about 1.24 million deaths annually and are the leading cause of death for people aged between 15 and 29 years. In Kenya, NTSA records show that an average of 3,000 people die annually due to road traffic crashes.

The total road fatalities in Kenya in 2014 stood at 2,907, which translated to a total reduction of 10 per cent as compared to 2013. This drop was mainly achieved due to the introduction and implementation of various interventions by the Government through the NTSA.

In 2014, the public service vehicle sector contributed to 42 per cent of the total fatalities reported. This is the more reason why the Zusha! campaign targets PSVs.

Road safety concerns everyone, and is a message that needs repeating. For change to happen on our roads, everyone in society needs to be aware of existing laws and regulations and support enforcement initiatives. Road safety can only become a reality through the deliberate efforts of many individuals and many sectors of society.

Time has come for more joint and concerted action – and much greater public awareness and education. The launch of the Zusha campaign therefore presents us all a great opportunity to strengthen road safety messages and reinforce efforts to confront the serious issues of traffic safety especially those related to PSVs.