Editorial comment: Taming road carnage: It begins with you!


Editorial comment: Taming road carnage: It begins with you!
Multiple car crash at the dreaded Sachangwan area on the Nakuru-Eldoret highway on Tuesday, December 12, 2017.

A dark cloud of injury and death on Kenyan roads hangs ominously. Over the past one week, nearly 100 people — if not more — have died as a result of road crashes. Dozens have been maimed, some for life.

As many prepare to hit the road for the holidays in the coming days, we wish to make a special appeal to each and everyone whether you will be a passenger or driver — your safety begins with you.

Yes, the traffic department and the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) have a key role to play in ensuring everyone is safe. But it requires more than the police road checks to curb the alarming number of accidents.

An accident, in the strictest sense is supposed to be a mishap, a misadventure, a mischance, an act of god – something beyond human control.

Modern Coast bus in the multiple car crash at Sachangwan area on the Nakuru-Eldoret highway on December 12, 2017. Photo/Courtesy
A Modern Coast bus in the multiple car crash at Sachang’wan area on the Nakuru-Eldoret highway on December 12, 2017. At least 15 people died in the accident. Photo/Courtesy

But can the case of a road crash caused by a drunk driver really be deemed an accident?

What about when you drive an unroadworthy vehicle — with worn-out tyres, faulty lights or brakes—will a road incident caused by such a vehicle be deemed a situation beyond human control?

Today, there is someone somewhere in this country planning to travel upcountry together with their children using a vehicle whose last service date they can hardly remember.

At this hour, there are passengers who are boarding a vehicle that they can manifestly see it is overloaded.

Other passengers are similarly in this minute cheering on in silence as a matatu driver speeds and performs daredevil stunts on the road, simply because they are in a hurry to get home.

The 14-seater matatu was reportedly being driven at a high speed when the driver lost control, ramming into the back of a tractor, killing 19 on the spot and leaving one passenger seriously injured. [PHOTO | CITIZEN DIGITAL]
The 14-seater matatu was reportedly being driven at a high speed when the driver lost control, ramming into the back of a tractor, killing 19 on the spot and leaving one passenger seriously injured. PHOTO | CITIZEN DIGITAL

And you must have seen this driver — or maybe it was even you — who finds heavy traffic on the highway and they immediately decide to overtake anyway without knowing what really the cause of the jam is. Such drivers usually assume the other motorists are cowards and stupid, until they notice an oncoming, freewheeling truck with full lights on.

We suggest that it is not the traffic laws that will save you from an unnecessary and preventable death or injury, important as the traffic laws are. It is not the national transport and safety authority and traffic officers that will bring sanity to our roads, duty bound as they are to do so.

It is the discipline — the discipline to do the right thing, even when the cops are not on the road.

The Administration Police lorry that veered off the road and rolled in Baringo on Saturday, December 9, 2017 killing 23 people. PHOTO/ Courtesy
The Administration Police lorry that veered off the road and rolled in Baringo on Saturday, December 9, 2017 killing 23 people. PHOTO/ Courtesy

For those planning to sit behind the steering wheel, please remember that you are one mistake away from causing a mishap on the road that could lead to a death or injury, both to yourself and others.

And if you are a passenger, have the courage to raise your voice, to object to careless and reckless driving, even if the driver happens to be your father. That way, you will be increasing your chances of having a moment with your father during Christmas as well wish him a happy new year.

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