In the wake of the Awasi crash that claimed 13 lives, it is now emerging that more Kenyans have died on road this year as compared to the same period in 2018.
Statistics from the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) show that as at October 1, road slaughter had claimed 2,672 lives compared to 2,286 last year.
NTSA Director-General Francis Meja on Friday said a large number of the crashes were caused by private vehicles.
“Two or three years ago, the public service vehicles were the second highest contributor of road accidents after private motorists,” he said in Nairobi.
“However, thanks to some of the interventions we have done, we have seen a shift where the PSV are now in position four.”
According to the NTSA statistics, accidents caused by private vehicles have increased from 579 last year to 702 this year.
Similarly, the number of accidents involving commercial vehicles increased from 564 to 597 while those caused by motor cycles have increased from 364 to 542.
During this time, crashes involving PSVs reduced from 427 to 411.
But of concern to Mr Meja and his team is the rising number of accidents involving boda bodas, which have increased by 30 percent in the last one month.
According to the NTSA report, pedestrians and passengers continue to bear the brunt of road carnages— with 1,033 pedestrians and 524 passengers having perished in 2019 alone.
This figure is higher compared to last year, where 882 pedestrians and 521 passengers died.
The director-general said stringent measures will be put in place to ensure driving licences of those putting the lives of the public in danger are withdrawn.
He noted that human behaviour is the major contributor to road slaughter as drivers make reckless decisions that endanger both their lives and those of passengers.
“The number of people we are losing on our roads is unacceptably high and it requires a lot of intervention from all stakeholders,” he said.
“One of the biggest challenge that we have is human behaviour and our future interventions will zero in on the drivers.”
He wants driver to stop distraction and recklessness on the road.
“We can avoid all these accidents if drivers are more careful on the roads. We need to change the behaviour of the person behind the wheel,” he said.
National Police Service Spokesman Charles Owino, who was also present during briefing on the Awasi accident, said preliminary reports indicate that the truck that hit the bus was speeding with full lights on.
“We have, however, sent our technical team to the ground to analyse and investigate the accident further,” he said.
“We encourage that all road users should observe the Highway Code and avoid exceeding the speed limit more so at night.”
The spike in crashes has recast the spotlight on night travel, with some Kenyans asking if it should be banned once again.
However, Mr Meja noted that limiting night travel, specifically for heavy commercial trucks, is not practical as it may affect trade.
“We have to be realistic,” he said.
“Kenya is at a critical regional position on the Northern Corridor, therefore, it might not be practical to restrict night travel as it would affect the entire region. We just have to be stringent in our rules on vehicles that travel at night.”
He, however, noted that there is need to re-evaluate the type of vehicle body that public service and commercial vehicles have in order to reduce the number of fatalities in the event of an accident.
“It is a concern that the body construction of these vehicles are not ideal,” he said.
“In fact, in other countries the 14-seater matatus are meant for cargo and not passengers. We are looking into alternatives that can be used in enhancing safety.”
In the Awasi night horror, at least 13 people, including both the bus and truck drivers, were killed and more than 30 others injured.