Driver education best bet on road safety

Friday October 12 2018


National Transport and Safety Authority Director General Francis Meja addresses a media briefing regarding the Kericho road carnage, at the agency's offices on October 11, 2018. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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The handover of traffic law enforcement equipment and materials from the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) to the police was meant to have a positive impact on the agency’s performance.

This is because it would have the time, personnel and resources to concentrate on its core mandate of public education, besides administrative functions.

The funds previously dedicated to the misplaced enforcement operations would be enough to run a multimedia campaign.

The agency would use the opportunity to develop and implement an education initiative, not only to earn the elusive public confidence, but also address the human factor, blamed for well over 80 percent of the accidents, according to the agency.


However, there seems to be an over-reliance on the enforcement apparatus, in the wrong presupposition that compliance with the legal requirements would guarantee road safety.

The absence of the engineering and education components only burdens an already dysfunctional enforcement operation and pinpoints the location of the structural and policy failures in the national road safety administration infrastructure.

It is, however, expected that the NTSA will take up the education task with the renewed vigour to regenerate the high-energy enthusiasm and dedication very much on public display when the agency drove enforcement.

At any rate, it will need to illuminate its presence and visibility on the safety campaign trail because it is the only official body in charge of the education docket.


And unless it rolls out an education initiative, there will be not much to keep it busy and it could so easily become redundant and irrelevant to the war against the accidents.

This could as well be because the NTSA is not directly involved in either the engineering or enforcement functions.

Driving is a multitask operation that involves performing multiple manoeuvres and actions simultaneously and instantaneously to avoid collisions with other road users.

Drivers must be made to understand and appreciate the importance of total concentration because the task is a full-time high performance engagement.

Driving demands smooth coordination of several functions in quick succession within a fraction of a second unit of time to maintain the full control of the car.


Education on the central role of drivers in the prevention of accidents ensures the smooth movement of mass traffic and controls the persistent traffic jams, accidents, congestion, obstruction and other dangerous driving habits — including disrespect for the traffic law on the national transportation infrastructure.

Driver education is the most timely and responsive initiative to the immediate needs to control the human factor and drastically reduce accidents. It is the most commonly used tool to manage traffic exposures.

In the United States, it is mandatory to introduce students to the driving task with a view to familiarising them with the traffic situations on the ground.

The subject is so popular and effective that it offers an incentive of a minimum of 25 percent discount on insurance premiums to all drivers who successfully complete the full course.

The gamble of the well-endowed US insurers to offer such huge incentives conforms and reaffirms the power of driver education against the grotesque road carnage.


That shows the central role the education of drivers plays in the development and promotion of the culture of safe driving. The curriculum is developed from data and materials gathered and processed from thorough and in-depth examination and profiling of accidents.

This is very important, to get insights into the actual causes, and very useful in the preparation of guidelines for the development and implementation of evidence-based initiatives.

These requirements reveal the monumental challenges the NTSA faces as it adjusts and re-orients towards the education function.

The agency will definitely require quite a dose of technical support expertise for the necessary institutional capacity building.

A media-driven campaign will have many great opportunities and advantages of deeper penetration to reach and impact public perception from down under the vulnerable grassroots mass road users.

The power of media imaging and reach will be critical in crystallising the uniformity and consistence of instructions to the millions of drivers and road users conveniently.

Prof Muune is the director, Africa Road Safety Services Ltd. [email protected]