The World Health Organisation ranks lack of road safety as the leading cause of death among 15-25 year olds and general mortality in middle and low income countries. In a report published in July 2017, lack of road safety in the world also causes almost 50 million injuries every year and is also likely to be the 7th leading cause of death by 2030. In 2009, road accidents were ranked 9th in cause of deaths. The major risk factors identified by the World Health Organisation are speeding, driving under intoxication from either alcohol or drugs, distracted driving occasioned by mobile phone use, poor road conditions, poor vehicle conditions, and failure to comply with existing regulations.
The highest deaths caused by road accidents were recorded in middle-income countries, i.e. 20.1, compared to 18.3 for low-income countries and 8.7 for high-income countries. Whereas Kenya does not appear among the top 20 in the list with highest road accident mortality rate, road accidents remain a nightmare as one of the leading causes of mortality in the country. According to the National Transport Safety Authority as at November 1, 2018, a total of 2,585 people had perished on Kenyan roads this year alone with 8,272 sustaining major injuries on the same. Road accidents are concluded to be the main cause of death for vulnerable road users with half of the people killed on the road being pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.
The responsibility of road safety does not lie with the government alone. All road users, i.e. pedestrians and motorists, are responsible for maintaining road safety for both themselves and other road users. Many people have been known to be careless in observing traffic rules and regulations, making themselves vulnerable to accidents. From vehicle conditions to safety moves like belting up, avoiding driving under the influence of drugs/ alcohol, having the right gear and even attitude, we all put ourselves in the line of danger when we do not follow the rules.
While the government is expected to formulate and enforce policies and regulations around road safety, which it has through its arms NTSA and KeNHA, each road user should play their role in ensuring the road is safe for fellow road users. The government should go on to provide safe roads for Kenyans with road and bridge upgrades and maintenance being done regularly to ensure that all hazards are removed.
As road users, maintaining the right attitude will also serve to protect fellow road users. It begins with obeying basic rules i.e. ensuring that our health and the health of the cars we drive are in prime condition. That means that apart from ensuring the vehicle is in good working order, the driver should ensure they are not under the influence of alcohol, drugs or strong medicine. When on the road, the rule is to obey all traffic signs and rules, whether driving, riding or walking. We must always respect fellow road users, maintain the right lane and ensure we are visible to fellow road users especially in times of poor visibility. Safety moves like fastening seat belts, wearing helmets and reflector jackets, observing speed limits and keeping safe distance between vehicles should be observed to pre-empt possible calamities.