Draconian traffic laws will not cure problem of road accidents - Daily Nation

Draconian traffic laws will not cure problem of road accidents

Friday May 18 2012

The proposed Traffic Act is draconian, and not based on any scientific research on the causes of road accidents in Kenya.

The Act will only make some policemen very rich.

There are three factors involved in any traffic accident: the road, the driver and the vehicle.

If all three are in perfect state, then road accidents would be minimal. If the roads are narrow and full of potholes, then accidents are inevitable.

The government must maintain roads and ensure that they are marked. Drivers will not overlap or drive on pavements if the government planned cities intelligently.

There only reason Nairobi does not have an efficient public transport system is the barren intellect of city councillors. Allowing the chaotic matatus to operate in the CBD drove the organised and disciplined Kenya Bus to its death.

If the government was serious, Nairobi would be having an efficient public commuter electric train network.

A ring network system linking all major satellites, like Ruiru, Kahawa West, Uthiru, Dagoretti, Karen, Ngong, Matasia, Kiserian, Athi River, Ruai, and back to Ruiru; would not only reduce the unnecessary congestion at CBD, but it would also uplift these centres from ‘dormitory towns’ to thriving urban areas.

Driver competence and attitude are crucial. The government should standardise driving school syllabuses and closely supervise the driving schools.

Enforcement of good driving habits calls for traffic policemen who are well trained, competent and of high integrity. Rather than scrap the traffic police unit as proposed in the legislation, it should be enhanced.

The traffic police unit should collect fines without taking the offenders to court. The tedious system of hauling all traffic offenders to court is one of the reasons for bribery in the traffic department.

Traffic policemen should be well equipped to check the roadworthiness of vehicles. They should be able to read, (but not write) the memory chip on the driver’s licence to determine whether the holder is an incorrigible offender.

Merely making draconian laws, without addressing the underlying causes, is like treating the symptoms while leaving the disease to kill the patient.

Ben Njenga, Nairobi