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Road safety awareness campaigns will play key role in ending accidents

Opinion

The latest statistics by the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) indicate hundreds of people have been killed in road accidents this year, while others have been left with life-changing injuries.

Most of these accidents according to NTSA have been caused by poor behavior among Kenyan drivers with recent data by the safety authority revealing that at least 1,213 people have died on the road in the past three months.

In this regard, more must be done to save lives by, among other things, cracking the whip at rogue drivers of public service vehicles (PSVs). While the renewed effort by Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen to restore sanity on the roads is a welcome move, more action than words is needed.

The country is losing thousands of lives unnecessarily to road accidents, which translates to lost family support systems and human resources. The government should take a keen interest in vehicle manufacturers' specifications as the first reference point for ending these crashes.

The conversion of Nissan and Toyota eight-passenger vans into 14-passenger vehicles without adhering to safety and reliability standards has proven to be a deadly practice, leading to devastating carnage and loss of innocent lives on Kenyan roads. By converting vans to carry and load more passengers than intended, the emergency stoppage capacity is severely compromised, leaving vehicles unable to respond effectively in critical situations.

Moreover, the imbalance caused by overloading disrupts the vehicle's stability, increasing the risk of collision, accidents and fatalities. What makes this tragedy even more distressing is the fact that other countries such as South Africa utilising similar popular vans adhere strictly to a maximum eight-passenger capacity. While these countries prioritise safety and compliance with manufacturer specifications, Kenya's failure to do so has resulted in a disproportionately high number of fatalities on its roads.

Not anything about road bumps or speed governors or even traffic speed cameras will help reduce road carnage. However, the continued prevalence of illegal van conversions and their deadly consequences highlight the urgent need for accountability and action. President William Ruto must intervene and ensure there are no further loss of lives on roads.

It is imperative for the government to immediately crack down on illegal conversions and enforce compliance with safety regulations. Additionally, investing in public awareness campaigns and education initiatives is crucial to empower drivers and passengers with the knowledge to make safer choices on the roads.

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