Speed thrills and yes, speed kills


There is a common saying that goes: The living close the eyes of the dead, but the dead open the eyes of the living. We offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the 41 people those who lost their lives in last week’s bus accident.

In Kenya, the often stated statistic is that over 3,000 people die due to road traffic accidents. However thousands more die at home, in hospital and en0route to hospital or are maimed for life. At this rate, in the next few years, road traffic accidents will claim as many lives as malaria, HIV and AIDS and TB. Today, the average annual cost of road crashes to Kenya’s economy is above Sh14 billion or about 5 percent of our GDP. But these are just numbers. Behind these numbers lie pain, tragedy and missed opportunities.

Excessive speed is the leading contributor to road traffic accidents in Kenya. The Traffic Police Department advises that if we simply reduce the speed at which we drive, we will drive the likelihood and severity of an accident. Reducing the severity of a crash means less severity of injuries. It means a life saved, not lost. But instead we sometimes revel at how fast friends drive from Nairobi to Eldoret, or how fast one can drive their car on our newly constructed super highways. How many of us see speeding as a thrill or as the solution for making up for a poorly planned day? How many of us pay attention to the speed limit signs on our roads?

Towards the end of last year, Safaricom, along with the Media Owners Association founded the National Road Safety Trust – which has representation from the Traffic Department, EABL, General Motors, Total, Direct Line Assurance, Invesco Assurance and Magnate Ventures, with the purpose of galvanizing support for a coordinated private sector response towards road safety. The Trust has developed a three year programme which will contribute towards public sector efforts at addressing road safety.

In April this year, the Trust and other corporate partners donated 10 speed cameras to the Traffic Department. Speed cameras have proven to be an effect deterrent to speeding in places such as the Nairobi-Naivasha-Nakuru stretch.

Since the speed cameras were mounted, in a period of four months, over 1,500 drivers have been apprehended for speeding and over Sh7 million has been collected in fines, and has been passed over to the Judiciary.

These speed cameras are equipped with video recording capabilities which lends transparency to arrests and prosecution. Indeed traffic police report that there is much less confrontation and when one is arrested for speeding. There are now 16 speed cameras all over the country, but this is a far cry from the 200 cameras required to effectively curb over speeding in the country.

The National Road Safety Trust calls upon Kenyans not to wait for more speed cameras to be deployed countrywide before they make the decision not to over speed. We should take responsibility for our lives and the lives of passengers and pedestrians and make the conscious decision to drive responsibly. In just four months, we can see that these speed monitoring systems are working. But even with the charges and the fines, we can easily fall back to our old habits.

It is important that we all realize that road safety is everybody’s business. We should all play a role in curbing road carnage. The police need to be stringent in their enforcement strategies. Perpetrators need to be punished, and not too lightly. But the end game stops with the individual.

Life is precious. To lose so many lives on the road mostly over the thrill or pressure of speed is needless. It is often said that accidents do not happen by accident. Accidents are caused by carelessness. It’s important for us and our loved ones to know that when we leave our homes or offices tonight, we will arrive at our destination alive. Speed may thrill, but speed kills.

(Collymore is the CEO of Safaricom and is a Founder Trustee of the National Road Safety Trust)

9 Replies to “Speed thrills and yes, speed kills”

  1. Sir [Collymore], you are more than an expertriate, you are brother and a guardian also.

    Road safety is everbody’s business. Let us all observe traffic regulations, let us stop giving bribes and blame the police, let us operate roadworthy vehicles.

    I will play my role while on the road.

  2. I think this article need to be published not only here online but fliers and be distributed to almost every driving license holder.

  3. Bob…I think you are being politically-correct, in part because you are an expat and do not want to ruffle the feathers of your host and point out the other equally more pertinent reason why Kenya has such a high number of tragic road accidents: Impunity across the entire spectrum of the society.

    While I agree that speed kills…let’s take this a step further and ask why it, speed, kills, more in Kenya than say Germany or the US both which have (a) superhighways that put the Kenyan “superhighway” to shame and (b) have an abundance of supercars
    such as the Bugatti…M5, AMG, Ferrari not to mention 35x the number of cars
    than does Kenya.

    Installing all the cameras in the world will not mitigate the culture of impunity that is part and parcel of Kenyan society. People speed because they are not afraid of the repercussions…er..consequences if you may…of speeding until they die or are maimed in an accident!

    Added to the cocktail of speed is the various states of disrepair of the country’s roads not to mention the roadworthiness of the vehicles AND the experience (or lack thereof) and it quickly becomes apparent why the carnage on Kenya’s road is worse than Libya’s, Afghanistan’s and Syria’s, at least according to http://www.worldlifeexpectancy

    Yes the end game starts and stops with the individual who last I checked were humans…who are by nature, selfish…which is why there are laws and rules that govern a society…to mitigate said selfishness!

    To put it bluntly: Until traffic laws are enforced “Michuki-style” and severe repercussions and penalties i.e. punitive ones that make individuals pause and think about their
    act (of speeding) are instituted, the carnage on our roads will continue

    Sorry Mr. Collymore…but the reason traffic deaths in Kenya are where they are is not because the country does not have enough cameras; it is because the country’s culture of impunity has seeped into all facets of the society including driving recklessly
    without fear of being held accountable!

    1. Bob, you are right. I add that the slow moving tracks are also responsible for accident particularly at night. These vehicles should honestly not be allowed to travel at night. We find ourselves in situation that we have created. The late Michuki did it alone without a structure, I don’t believe that the government is not capable of saving us from the road menace. As the situation get worse some individuals benefit from the mess, and will thus maintain status quo. A lot of resources spent in hospitals coz of these accidents can be diverted to preventive medicine. We can get solutions by building more hospitals or simply stopping the river from the source. We are capable of any of them. Lets make a wise decision.

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