Enhance culture of safety on the road

Thursday March 17 2016

By EDITORIAL
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Two horrible accidents that occurred on Tuesday once again bring into focus the need to enhance road safety.

In one, a speeding motorist mowed down nursery school children who were crossing the Kisumu-Nairobi highway and in the other, a motorist was burnt to death in an eight-vehicle pile-up on the Maai Mahiu-Naivasha highway.

In both cases, there is clearly an element of human error that needlessly led to the deaths.

Another common factor is that the two incidents happened in broad daylight and hence clear visibility.

The spot where the children died is on a straight road. Most importantly, this is a built-up area and any driver should know what the speed limit is.

Unfortunately, such careless driving is common on our roads.

In Naivasha, a truck driver who lost control of the vehicle while taking a sharp bend is to blame for the traffic mayhem that followed.

NTSA SHOULD DO MORE

The accidents just go to show that traffic police and the National Transport and Safety Authority must do more to make our roads safer.

And this is a tall order as there are many incompetent drivers out there endangering lives.

The police must be commended for promptly arresting the suspect in the nursery school children crash and clearing the mayhem after the Maai Mahiu crash.

The NTSA has done a commendable job of sensitising motorists on the need to observe speed limits.

It has also been instrumental in cracking down on drink driving.

However, these efforts are still minimal and the agency will require more resources to extend its coverage.

Its ability to carry out impromptu checks is an effective way of getting drivers to obey traffic rules and regulations.

Even as we expect the courts to speedily deal with traffic offences, it is important that deterrent sentences are handed out.

Police have done poorly by setting up almost permanent roadblocks, where the officers get more preoccupied with extorting bribes. 

CHANGE OF TACK

A change of tack is clearly needed to make police more effective in curbing speeding, getting unroadworthy motor vehicles off the roads, and weeding out incompetent drivers.

However, it would be foolhardy to expect police and the NTSA officials alone to promote a road safety culture.

Drivers, passengers, and even pedestrians have a role to play in making our roads safer.

Beginning to educate children on road safety at an early age has worked well in the developed nations.

The raging debate on the Interior Ministry’s decision to reduce the number of police officers guarding governors would probably never have arisen had the criteria been made public.

Had this matter not arisen, the public would never have known that some governors have nearly 20 bodyguards paid for by the taxpayer while others have only two.