ROAD SAFETY IN KENYA-Emphasizing the need for tougher actions

If you visit most major towns in Kenya you will definitely find that there are a lot of bicycles commonly referred to as boda bodas and motorbikes which have provided an alternative means of transport especially for those in the low income bracket of society.

They provide a fast and cheap means of traveling fast over short distances.It is not uncommon to see two or more people clinging onto the rider as they whiz past you to their preferred destination.But as much as they have become common they have also contributed to the huge number of fatalities on Kenyan roads.

In much of Europe and the US you cannot have a baby under the age of two years in a bicycle carrier.The situation in Kenya is very different because all too often i have witnessed mothers carrying infants on these killer machines.With their hands firmly wrapped around their babies God forbid if the rider accidentally braked to a halt,they would be thrown off and would be nursing serious injuries or even worse.

Kenya ranks very high among countries that have the worst road safety records and while the government has focused on public service vehicles,we also need to turn our attention to the emerging transport trends in the country.Public education on road safety needs to be done urgently and any offenders should face swift action.Maybe it is time passengers also faced arrest or fines for putting themselves in danger by either not adhering to safety regulations.Why would a mother pile her two kids on these killer machines?

Having lived in Western Kenya for a little while now i have seen school children being transported to school in the early morning.Some are so young they are either falling sleep on the rider’s back or sucking on their fingers.Can you imagine what would happen if these future Kenyans fell asleep and forgot to hold on to the bars?

Possible Solutions
While accepting the fact that motorbike accidents are not the only culprit when it comes to road carnage,it is time a concerted effort from all parties was initiated .
Road safety should be a concern for all road users be it drivers of public or personal vehicles,heavy commercial vehicles,pedestrians and even the traffic department.

May be it is time the government involved the public in curbing the rising deaths on our roads.There are very many online forums where i have read stories of Kenyans sharing their stories of how they have lost loved ones on our roads.At the same time these forums provide great ideas that both the transport ministry and traffic department should look into in solving the crisis.

Sometimes,the cause of these accidents lies squarely with the road users on foot who prefer scampering across highways instead of using foot bridges,but i do think any good driver needs to slow down in areas where there is heavy pedestrian traffic.

It is also time Kenyans shifted blame for road fatalities,most of the time Kenyans after an accident will be heard lamenting on how the driver was going too fast.But how many of us raise voices in protest when we are in such a vehicle?The police recently reminded Kenyans that they can make a citizens arrest in such a case and it is time we took the power into our hands and saved more lives.

The judicial system also needs to act very fast in handing out justice to the drivers who out of carelessness have been the cause of death or serious injuries.By making sure that justice is meted out swiftly it will underline the seriousness with which road safety will be viewed in the country.

The Traffic department also needs to set its own targets by which road carnage should be curbed.There is no greater gratification for a human being than seeing their goals met.In this way we may see the traffic police enforce the existing laws and even some without resorting to bribe taking.

Signs,signs signs are everywhere on our highways but it is like our drivers either do not read them,do not know what they mean or simply choose to ignore them.By following the signs set out on our roads we may see a few more lives saved.

Finally road safety should be a concern for all Kenyans,let us reduce our speeds,never drive when drunk ,use designated crossing points for pedestrians,remember that even bicycles,motorbikes are valid road users and above all respect human life.

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