If we went by the number of fatalities and causalities on Kenya roads we must be the worst country in the world in terms of road safety records.Mombasa road alone has robbed countless families of fathers,mothers,children,brothers,sisters and friends.Not a day goes by that you dont get to read or hear in the news of someone who has lost their life in what must be Kenya’s road with the highest number of black spots.Just his week there was the heart breaking tory of a lecturer who lost his entire family in addition to a friend who had offered to drive them to the Jomo Kenyatta airport ,the story can be read here.
According to the WHO 1.3 million people are killed on roads every year worldwide while 50 million pole sustain injuries ,90% of these victims are in developing countries. The UN General assembly declared 2011-2020 as the Decade of Action for Road Safety.While road fatalities have largely been seen to decline or stabilize in developed countries they remain a major cause of death in developing countries and the WHO estimates that if left unchecked could see deaths rise to 2.3 million by the year 2030.An article written on the launch can be read here on the WHO site.
With Kenya now focusing on improving its road network with better roads we can only expect things to get worse if not better.Most Kenyan drivers are always rushing off at break neck speeds from point A to point B.Even on roads where there is heavy pedestrian traffic or on major highways where there are designated livestock crossing areas or pedestrian crossings motorists are still pressing on their gas pedals to get the most speed out of the automobiles that have probably been bought with a loan that has not even been fully paid.They do this with total disregard for other motorists,pedestrians or even cyclists who have a right to use the very same roads.
More Kenyans especially on Fridays and over the weekend stagger into their cars with in their inebriated states and hope and pray they get home without hitting anyone or anything,God forbid if they should slump over their steering wheels especially if they are speeding on the newly constructed highway that may have no markings because we all know where there are going to end up-on the cold slab of a morgue.Their faces and bodies so disfigured by the impact of their crush that their relatives hardly recognize them and their precious vehicles reduced to mangled wrecks.
Over the holidays especially Christmas and Easter all hell breaks loose because all Kneyans are headed to the country to spend time with their loved ones.However some do not even get home as they meet their ends when some other deranged road user in a similar rush hits them or they roll several times because they lost control of their vehicle.
Our laws which are meant to deter such behavior do not seem to be doing enough to deter people who break the rules.In my opinion a man or woman who causes the death of another while driving is no better than a person who commits premediated murder.We whould have these peole face the stiffest penalities under the law and be forced to do some form of commuity service in schools and colleges to discourage future motorists to be more careful on our roads by discouraging bad driving habits.
Without these tough meausre we will continue seeing the increaisng number of fatalities that do not seem to be abating any time soon.We also need the traffic department to be incorruptile in the issuance of driving permits,if you do not pass the test go and resit it till you get it..Constant appraisal should also be done for drivers maybe every 5 years and if one gets a clean pass 3 times then one can be excused from further tests.It seems peole forget all the etiquette of driving the minute they get their licence and it is time we reminded peole of the tough consequences that will be meted out incase one flouts the rules.
Drunk driving needs to attract a very stiff sentence too because these inebirated drivers have caused enough grief to Kenyan families.Too bad that the alcoblow that was meant to measure the inebriation of drivers became a cropper and nothing has replaced it.I really admire the tough stance taken by the US where a drunk driver spend time in the coolers till the next day when they are sober and they can drive home.Maybe we also need to name and shame high profile personalities who are caught driving under the influence,this would definitely discourage future offenders.
According to the action planned for the decade to improve on Road Safety by the UN are that member states with the help of the international community need to commit to developing and implemenitng legislation to reduce on risk factors such as limiting speed,reducing drunk driving and increasing use of seatbelts,child restraints and motorcycle helmets.
If the legislative arm of government implemented and enforced the Michuki rules which were similar to the UN recommendations on improving raod safety we would Be on the way to reduicng the number of Kenyans losing their lives daily on our roads.The then Minister for Transport Honorable Jospeh Michuki was light years ahead of the UN declaration but since he was moved to the Minitry of Environment all his good intetions seem to have been forgotten by his predecessor and the Traffic department .
However for this to work drivers,pedestrians and the general public as a whole need to remember that road safety starts with each and every one of us.Any time one gets behind the wheel of a vehicle or is out walking on the roads,they need to remember being safe starts with an individual.We need to observe road signs,be mindful of other road users,avoid driving when inebriated and stay within safe speed limits such that one is able to control their vehicle incase anything happens that requires quick action.
Let us keep our roads safe!