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Simple measures that can help reduce road carnage

By letters | Mar 21st 2014 | 3 min read

Kenya: I was encouraged by the article written by Hon Michael Kamau, Transport Cabinet Secretary,  in The Standard on Sunday of March 16, 2014.  Finally, we can put a name and a face to someone with common sense, who wants and hopefully has the authority to do something about the “madness on our roads.” 

He has some good ideas.  Implementation and enforcement is entirely a different issue. Our police seem to be incapable and unwilling to work in partnership with anyone in this regard.  Most traffic accidents are the result of moving violations. 

These infringements are mostly undetectable by stationary roadblocks.  Until police are trained and supplied with vehicles dedicated to patrolling our streets and highways, most of these new rules will go unenforced. Patrolling is expensive and we hear that the Government is broke, so this probably won’t happen in the near future.

 Since Mr Kamau seems to be in the mood for change, here are some suggestions that won’t cost anyone a penny: Insist on the use of headlights, any time any vehicle is in motion, be it day or night. In some countries vehicles are wired such that headlights go on automatically when the engine is started.   This requirement would accomplish three important goals:  Most importantly, the visibility of all vehicle would be increased. 

The principle of ‘see and be seen’ is basic in the aviation industry and it is just as valid for road transport.   Secondly, it would make it easier for the stationary police blockades to identify vehicles with defective lighting systems and get them off the roads until they are repaired. 

Thirdly, it would stop the absurd and very common practice of drivers operating vehicles during periods of reduced visibility (at dusk, dawn and during heavy rains) with absolutely no lights illuminated. Kenya Power won’t charge you for putting on lights during the day! Ironically, I was stopped by a police officer recently on a damp, dark and misty morning and told to turn my lights off.  He said that was the law. Are you kidding me?

Another cheap suggestion would be a robust enforcement of the requirement to use turn signals.  Traffic police could monitor bus and matatu stages, t-junctions and city streets for proper use of these devices. If someone stops or turns without signalling, a citation is issued.  Simple.  Hardly anyone, from buses to private vehicles to  commercial transport ever uses turn  or hand signals.  This causes accidents, delays traffic and increases stress associated with driving, which causes even more accidents.

Good luck, Mr Kamau.

-Doug Morey, Nairobi

Vehicles that smoke excessively should be put off the road. They pollute the environment, are a healthy hazard to the public and minimise visibility on our roads.

While driving between Njoro and Nakuru town recently, I witnessed some vehicles smoking like chimneys.

Hey please, service your vehicles they’re endangering other road users and polluting the environment. Be mindful of others’ welfare.

-Justin N Nkaranga, Mombasa

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