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Posted by: Kenya Today - Kenya News on 02/08/2019

What are the Five Major Causes of Road Accidents in Kenya

What are the Five Major Causes of Road Accidents in Kenya

The Kenya National Transport and Safety Authority recently reported that reckless driving is one of the biggest causes of accidents in Kenya. Four out of every five reported accidents are caused by reckless driving. However, it is not the only factor influencing accidents in Kenya; other factors are also in play, as explained later in this article. We live in a country where roads are arguably the most used means of transport, but the accidents seem to increase by the year.

However, the government and other industry players have helped improve the state of our roads in some areas while introducing other affordable methods of transport such as the SGR. The government has also introduced organizations such as the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA). NTSA is playing its part in ensuring drivers do not break the rules, such as speeding, but accidents still occur as a result of the same.


Christmas cheer is already in the air, and as we head into one of the busiest seasons in the transport and hotel industries, we urge Kenyans to exercise caution when on the roads. You can prevent an injury to self or anybody close to you by firstly understanding the leading causes of accidents. As such, we have compiled a list of some of the reasons for the major accidents in Kenya, especially during holidays, and how you can prevent the same. 

Here are some of the major causes of accidents on Kenyan roads.

  • The Roads

By now, every Kenyan is disgusted by the state of most roads in the country. What irks most Kenyans are not the fact that the roads are bad, but politicians who pocket money meant for development. As a result, most roads are filled with potholes and others poorly tarmacked, making it easy for accidents to occur. The saddest part about this condition is some of those are important routes for both travelers and goods in the country. 

Some areas in the country are even labeled ‘blackspots' due to the bad state of roads, which causes major accidents. Astoundingly, even after repairs, some of these areas retain a reputation for causing major accidents. According to the Kenya Police Service website, some of these black spots include Nkubu, Thika Blue Post, Salgaa (Molo G.S.U Camp), and Kwale Matuga junction road section, to mention a few http://www.kenyapolice.go.ke/accident-black-spots.html

 

If the Kenyan government follows through on its promises to make the roads better, the rate at which accidents occur in Kenya will significantly reduce. Until then, always drive around the potholes to prevent both an accident and damage to your car. More importantly, drive slowly once you notice the roads are bad to prevent swerving unexpectedly, which can easily cause a major accident. Politicians and related authorities might take the blame for the bad condition of our roads, but passenger safety is your responsibility as a driver. 

  • Over speeding 


I bet you are aware of the popular Matatu culture in Kenya, where modified vehicles overlap in traffic jams to get to their destination earlier. Private cars are also known for over speeding, which is a significant accident causer in Kenya. Drivers are advised to drive their vehicles at the recommended speeds, especially in marked areas, to prevent accidents. More so, if you use public means, make sure the driver obeys all traffic rules; after all, your life is worth much more than a fine for being late. 

One of the most notorious culprits when it comes to over speeding is the khat (miraa) drivers operating mostly on the Meru-Nairobi highway. Most recently, there was an accident caused by these drivers, and a video of the over-speeding vehicle was also trending online. Some of our roads also pass via busy towns such as Ngurubani, Mwea, where there have been reported accidents due to over speeding by these drivers https://www.nation.co.ke/counties/kirinyaga/Miraa-car-driver-escapes-lynching-in-Kirinyaga/3444752-5284248-x3draz/index.html.

To be on the safe side, when using roads that are prone to over speeding drivers, always be vigilant and report any speeding incidents to relevant authorities. Also, if you are the driver, obey all the speed limit rules and leave on time or earlier to avoid the urge to over speed. 

  • Overloading


Overloading is frequent not only in public vehicles but private ones as well. Every car has a recommended weight limit, which makes it easy for the car to operate effectively. Overloading tips the balance of your vehicle and increases the chances of an accident, especially on these bad Kenyan roads. Greed for money causes overloading in most public cars. As such, to be on the safe side, be sure to board a vehicle that does not carry excessive passengers.

Overloading in the public sector was a tradition of sorts until the late John Michuki’s seat belt rule took effect. As a passenger, you should know that boarding a matatu as an excessive passenger is both a punishable offense and highly endangers your life in the event of an accident. Drivers carrying goods are also guilty of overloading their vehicles with products such as timber, plastics, or even furniture. Overloading may impede a driver’s vision, affect a car’s performance, or spoil your vehicle, all of which are responsible for major accidents.   

  • No respect for traffic rules


There are always consequences of breaking laws. Whether it is a fine or serving time in jail, the Kenyan constitution has penalties for every traffic rule that is broken. However, most drivers are ignorant and know where the police are located on a daily basis. As such, they break the speed rules as well as other rules such as overlapping to maximize on profits incurred in the transport sector. However, there is a reason traffic rules exist.

Most people who break them and are not caught often get cocky and end up causing major accidents. There are specific areas where drivers opt to overlap as opposed to waiting out the traffic jam, and it's a well-known fact that a small bribe can get you out of such a conundrum. However, with the introduction of organizations such as NTSA and a revamped Police system, overlapping is slowly becoming a thing of the past. Nonetheless, it is still a major accident causer, especially with regard to pedestrians who might not spot an overlapping vehicle until it is too late.

Avoid overlapping at all costs to both avoid hefty fines or losing your license as well as accidents. Also, obey all traffic rules such as traffic lights in the city and other instructions such as sticking to your lane on the highway. Also, wear your seat belt all the time and ensure everyone around you does the same. Sometimes, your vehicle might be a casualty in an unexpected and unavoidable accident, and seat belts are a critical safety measure you should never take for granted.

  • Corruption and a weak system


Corruption is one of the biggest hindrances to development in the country. There are a lot of corrupt individuals primarily in the traffic sector, making it hard to prevent unroadworthy vehicles from operating on our roads. Even those that have all the papers often bribe the police when caught over speeding or breaking laws such as carrying excess passengers. Turning a blind eye for a meager 100 Shillings is despicable, considering thousands of people have perished on our roads due to traffic police ignorance and greed.

 

Police are even asking for bribes to write a ‘good’ insurance report once they find someone in an accident as recently reported https://www.the-star.co.ke/news/big-read/2019-05-15-how-police-trap-motorists-into-paying-bribes/. Turning a blind eye in such instances has caused hundreds if not thousands of major accidents to date due to ignorant drivers who feel like they ‘own’ the road. These drivers have no worries over speeding or overloading regardless of the patrol cars cops set up at different parts of our roads. 

  • Underage drivers


I bet you have seen teenagers or young adults speeding through the streets of the city or the highway in a loud Subaru. While they also upgrade other vehicles to enhance the racing experience, Subaru is the preferred model. Underage driving is against the law in Kenya, but the youth and teens have found a way to race in the city streets sometimes late at night. Most vehicles belong to close relatives who end up paying the price in the event of an accident. 

If a driver without a license is arrested on Kenyan roads, the repercussions are heavy. The law considers that as endangering the lives of other motorists as well as pedestrians, who are inevitable. The owner of the vehicle can even go to jail if their vehicle was involved in an accident. As such, do not let your teenage son or daughter or your favorite cousin drive your car, even with adult supervision. 

  • Drugs and mobile phone use


According to a recent survey, accidents are ranked 9th when it comes to the top ten causes of death in the country. The report also predicts that accidents will be 7th on the same list by the year 2030, with some of the major causes being drug and mobile phone use. A while ago, cops would take a bribe and allow a motorist to drive their vehicle while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. However, NTSA and alcoblow have greatly helped the police ensure drivers are sober when driving on our roads.

However, not all drunk drivers are arrested, as some have even devised ways to exchange information regarding police checkpoints. Alcohol impairs judgment and is a major cause of road accidents. Not to mention, our road conditions do not allow impaired judgment with all the potholes on the way. Other than drug use, mobile phone use has also caused a lot of many major accidents on our roads. As aforementioned, our road conditions require full concentration, and cell phones are a massive distraction. A simple text or picking up a call can make a driver veer off their lane or brake suddenly after gaining concentration and get hit by another car from the back.

Sometimes a phone might slip from your hand while you are driving, prompting you to take your hands off the road even for a second to look for it. Two seconds of lack of focus can cause a major accident on any road, not just in Kenya. As such, ensure that your phone is on vibration or silent and avoid picking it up at any cost when driving. 

  • Animals and weather conditions 


Pedestrians are the ones who usually spot dead animals when walking past a busy road. Some of the drivers responsible for hitting these animals either drive off or their vehicles sustain minimal damages. However, bigger animals can make a driver lose control of a car, especially if they are speeding. More so, the dead animal left on the road can also make another unaware driver cause a major accident as they try to escape the clash. 

If you are an avid politics fan, you must have heard about the demise of former Nyeri Governor Wahome Gakuru in a grisly road accident. While a mechanical failure is rumored to have caused the accident, heavy rain played a part in the crash when the car lost control. Rain makes the roads slippery and can make drivers mistakes large potholes for small pools of water. It is advisable not to drive fast on a new road under harsh weather conditions. 

Even on a familiar road, be sure to drive safely and slowly, considering it is very easy to skid and lose control. Other than heavy weather conditions, drivers should also be on the lookout during the night as night driving is considered a major factor when it comes to accidents on Kenyan roads. Some drivers sleep behind the wheel while others deal with visibility problems when it’s dark. Lastly, be sure to always check your vehicle before driving to ensure it is in prime road condition and occasionally visit the mechanic. 

  • Conclusion


The causes listed above are just examples of the most significant causes of accidents on our roads. There are others, such as poor car maintenance and recklessness. In 2018, over 2,000 people died from road accidents in Kenya. Ensure you follow all traffic rules or board a vehicle that does the same to avoid adding to that troubling statistic. Drive safe.

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