The National Transport and Safety Agency (NTSA) says private and commercial vehicles are to blame for the lion’s share of deaths on Kenyan roads.
Data from the authority reveals that 849 people died from accidents involving private vehicles while commercial vehicles related deaths stood at 707 compared to 563 deaths associated with matatus plying various roads in the country.
This is more than half of all deaths on Kenyan roads that in the just concluded financial year stood at 2,834 compared to 2015/2016 period.
A report released by NTSA board chairman Jackson Waweru says the hardest hit group are those in their prime between 20 to 44 years.
“Most accidents occurred on Friday, Saturday and Sunday when people are at home or driving around for leisure. Reckless driving, overlapping, motorists speeding on unfamiliar roads during weekends, riding without helmets, drink-driving, drink-riding and drink-walking on the road are to blame for about 91 per cent of fatalities reported during weekends,” he said.
The chairman said they were banking on technology to tame the deaths mostly blamed on failure by Kenyan drivers, riders, pedestrians and vehicle passengers to heed traffic regulations.
The statistics provided for the just ended 2016/2017 financial year also reveal a worrying trend in motorcycle related deaths where 465 riders perished together with 232 pillion passengers, which was solely blamed on failure to don helmets, reckless speeding and drink-riding.
Interestingly, NTSA seems to have concentrated on public service vehicles where reported deaths reduced by 8.3 per cent to stand at 563 from the previous year’s 614. This has seen NTSA put stringent measures on provision of speed governors with surveillance increased to ensure compliance.
While motorcycle related deaths have reduced by 9.2 per cent for riders as the previous year saw 565 perish, the death of pinion passengers rose from the 2015/2016 report of 200 pillion passengers to 232, which is a 16 per cent increase.
To tame the deaths, NTSA said a new curriculum had been prepared specifically for motorcycle riders to undergo theory, practical and sit for examinations.
This means riders will be taken through a thorough and vigorous road safety and use course that looks at all causes, eventualities and provides them with firsthand knowledge on first aid skills.
While a 21.8 per cent drop in pedestrian deaths was recorded, Mr Waweru said the 1,021 walkers demises was still high and asked corporate companies to join the authority in raising funds for putting up road barriers at known accident-prone spots along major roads in Nairobi and other cities.
“To better understand our drivers’ behaviour as well as create a historic driving trail of each driver, NTSA is soon launching a real-time database where each driver’s details will be updated regularly. Errant drivers will be penalised, licences suspended and in the worst scenario permanently banned from driving,” he said.
Pedestrians have also not been spared as 1,021 died compared to 1,306 the previous period.
Government vehicles were also blamed for causing 50 deaths compared to 34 reported in the previous period under review indicating the need to enhance traffic enforcement to all classes of drivers.
Also being introduced for every vehicle is the digital third identifier licence to be placed on a windscreen that will help NTSA and traffic officers confirm identity of motor vehicle owner on the spot.
Currently, only new registrations are getting the third identifier sticker while others will pay for the one off 10 year sticker once their vehicles are due for inspection.