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140 people perish on the road in a span of two weeks

140 people have lost their lives in road accidents in the last two weeks’ statistics from the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) show.

A closer look at the traffic data as of December 20, 2023, shows that the number of deaths has dropped compared to the same period in 2022.

Between January 1 and December 20, 2023, 4,139 lives were lost as a result of road accidents, compared to 4,517 lives lost during the same period last year. This represents a reduction of 8.4 per cent.

According to the latest statistics, there has been a significant reduction in fatalities for all road user groups this year compared to the same period last year, with the exception of pedal cyclists.

The increase in pedal cyclist deaths was attributed to speeding vehicles, dangerous riding, unsafe lane changing, distracted riding, and lack of non-motorised transport (NMT) facilities.

Other attributes include the use of mobile phones and other forms of distraction by both motorists and cyclists, failure to wear reflective jackets, and the use of NMT facilities intended for cyclists by other road users.

Speaking a fortnight ago, Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen said drunk driving, speeding, non-utilization of seat belts and helmets as well as unsafe road crossing by pedestrians are major contributors to accidents and injuries.

“People speed due to reasons such as urgency and lateness, which ultimately point to inadequate journey planning and time management. Let us prioritize safety over haste, responsibility over recklessness, and caution over carelessness, our choices on the roads impact not only ourselves but the lives of others,” Mr Murkomen said during the launch of a road safety campaign dubbed Usalama Barabarani in Nairobi.

He said the campaign will promote safe road user behaviour and enhance the survivability of traffic victims.

The CS went on to say that the Highway Code provides rules and guidelines on how to use the road.

“All road users – pedestrians, cyclists and motorists – have a right to use the road, but they should always act responsibly to ensure the safety of all. Basic guidelines are given on how to drive, reverse, cross the road as a pedestrian, obey traffic lights and so on.”

Murkomen also said most accidents, especially in towns and cities, occur on Friday evenings and Monday mornings, with a notable correlation to drunk driving.

“We have seen a troubling trend where private vehicles are engaging in serious driving violations, contributing significantly to the alarming accident rates. Unfortunately, these incidents are not only tragic losses but also detrimental to the economy, as many of these individuals are graduates,” Murkomen said.

Mr Murkomen further noted that most motorists are either unaware of the risks associated with reckless driving or they are deliberately engaging in poor practices that endanger their own lives and those of other road users.

“We have situations where passengers observe the driver sleeping or speeding. Instead of passengers refusing or speaking out against such behavior, they instead choose to record them. It is the passengers who must report these things, and when they do, we take action,” said Mr Murkomen.

According to the World Health Organization’s Global Status Report on Road Safety, between 3,000 and 13,000 Kenyans lose their lives in road traffic crashes every year.

The majority of these people are vulnerable road users – pedestrians, motorcyclists, and cyclists. In addition, almost a third of deaths are passengers – many of whom die on unsafe public transport.