We can end senseless deaths on our roads

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BY MACHEL WAIKENDA

Fatal crashes on Kenyan roads seem endless. Scores of passengers, motorists, pedestrians and pedal or motorcyclists are daily swelling the worrisome statistic.

The trend has hit nerve-wracking margins with each day recording not less than 15 people dying on our roads countrywide on any one given day. Worse still, many cases go unreported.

With various factors linked to road accidents, the numbers perennially show that driver errors account for over 70 percent of all fatal smashes and serious injury.

Many die as a consequence of inexperience, speeding, intoxication in the form of drink or drugs or just plain recklessness. Sadly again, a driver can only control his own actions and not those of the drivers sharing the roads.

The recent revelation of how rogue officials at Kenya Revenue Authority collude to irregularly process driving licenses to civilians who have never attended a single driving school session is testament to festering rot that, with a smile and a kickback, signs the death certificate not only to the recipient of illegally acquired documents but also put lives of other road users on a daily dalliance with death the very moment we join any road.

Police statistics on accidents for the last three years covering January to July, paint a rather grim picture on how Kenyans are massacred on the roads.

For the seven-month period in 2011,2012 and 2013, a total number of 1,749, 1,719 and 1,741 people died respectively.

Pedestrian fatalities have remained consistently high registering 843, 855 and 806 respectively over the same period. And, for the seven-month assessment period running from 2011 through 2013, a total of 10,300, 8,288 and 8,005 accidents were reported.

Among some of the human errors blamed for mass slaughter of innocents on the road are speeding, overloading, drunk-driving, drug abuse and use of cell phones while driving.

According to a World Health Organization (WHO) report, about 1.24 million road traffic deaths occur annually on the world’s roads with the proportion of pedestrians killed in relation to other road users being highest in Africa with 38 percent according to the report.

More than 50 million people are seriously injured every year with most of them being maimed. On average, there are 3,500 deaths a day or 150 every hour. In fact, this means nearly three people get killed on the road every minute worldwide.

Further, the report indicates that over 9,300 children in Kenya are involved in road traffic accidents annually as a result of human error.

Barely a fortnight ago, over 20 people including teachers and students perished in grisly road carnage when a bus belonging to Rioma Secondary School, loaded beyond capacity, crashed.

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  • Chiniquy

    It is surprising that the road accidents and death rate in Kenya is not more. I have never visited any place in the world where there are no traffic signals or street signs. Also many pedestrians seems to have no regard for moving traffic. I have seem people walking 3 abreast on a very busy street. Totally oblivious to traffic speeding by.

    • makray

      While I agree with your sentiment that pedestrians can be rather blasé in conduct around traffic, I still think the PSV – especially 14-seater matatu – drivers and vehicle owners bare the greatest responsibility for the annual bloodbath on our stretches of tarmac. The former drive as if they’re in motor-cross races, while many of the latter will desist from inspection of and investment in decent safety of their cash-cow vehicles as long as possible.

  • marloow

    Consequences of appearing to embrace impunity.
    Remember that the “young champions” whose victory in the 2013 elections you waxed so eloquently about in a previous piece are facing charges at The Hague for crimes against humanity.
    Why would Kenyans care about abstract inconveniences such as obeying traffic laws, maintaining road-worthy cars, building roads/bridges that meet international civil/structural engineering standards etc. while those at the top – your champions included – seem to get away with murder – literally and figuratively?
    Are you really an advocate?

  • kamau1947

    Adopt the European system of Tachographs in the cab of all commercials and PSV’s. Then license the operators and maintenance organisation, signed service books, controlled driving hours and the tachograph recording speed and driving pattern. Zero Tolerance to corrupt police is frankly a joke, my mat to work pays them every day.

    • K Shah

      Most attempts to discipline and change the PSV sector would be very difficult as politicians, police… own these ma3s, they would not want to change any of this.

      Other wise by now we would have a private investor who would bring in his/her own buses to change the system and charge the passengers accordingly. The rest of the investors could then buy shares after it would list on the stock exchange.

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