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BOINNET: Festive season a time to enjoy, it need not be deadly on our roads

by kenya-tribune

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The festive season is usually a busy period for the National Police Service as Kenyans travel, mainly to their rural homes, visiting with friends and relatives. Many will flock shopping malls, go to church, visit entertainment places and attend parties.

Sadly, the festive season has over the years seen reports of road accidents dominate the headlines. It has become almost predictable that accident rates will surge. That need not be the case; there is a need to stop this gloomy trend. We should not be fatalistic and resign ourselves to these depressing statistics.

The “Global Status Report on Road Safety”, released by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday, makes for grim reading.

Road accidents have become the leading global cause of death for children and young adults aged five to 29. The highest death rates are in Africa, at 26.6 per 100,000 cases, with pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists the most affected.

National Transport and Safety Authority statistics show an increase in the number of road accident victims from 9,680 to 11,494 over the year ended November 21. Fatalities grew from 2,509 to 2,750.

I want to encourage all Kenyans to plan their travel schedules properly. Proper planning will ensure that you do not have to travel on the busiest days, getting into traffic snarl-ups and then taking the sort of shortcuts that land you in trouble with the law.

For long-distance travellers, know when you will take your days off and do your booking in good time to avoid using public service vehicles that don’t operating within the law. For private motorists, prepare your car for the drive.

For those travelling short distances, it is useful to have a plan and familiarise yourself with where you are going and the people you will meet. If you are going to an event and the likelihood that you will take alcohol is high, ensure you have a sober designated driver or, better still, take a taxi.

Motorists should exercise patience, even when running late. Avoid exceeding speed limits and the recklessness that often comes with it.

Police officers will be vigilant on our roads to ensure that traffic rules are not flouted and lives of Kenyans unnecessarily endangered. Whoever is bent on breaking traffic rules will be dealt with in accordance with the law.

Road users ought to remember that adherence to the law would enable them to spend their holidays safely and in the company of their loved ones. Nobody would like to spend their holiday in a mortuary, hospital or jail.

The NTSA statistics show that the majority of fatalities from road accidents are pedestrians; meaning they need to be more careful on the road. They should use the designated areas for walking and for crossing the road and not be absent-minded as they walk.

Cyclists and motorcyclists, and their passengers, should wear reflective gear always, especially at night, and helmets.

I want to emphasise the importance of the involvement of the private sector in road safety initiatives. Private sector players are constantly in touch with their customers and have the communication skills that can come in handy in spreading awareness about crucial matters.

Corporations that have an interest in road safety should work collaboratively to take their services closer to people and in a manner that will enable them to have fun and celebrate with the confidence that movement on the road will be easy and hassle-free.

There is no good reason to get behind the wheel while drunk. It creates an unnecessary risk to the driver, passengers, other motorists and pedestrians.

Kenyans have seen the commitment from the police on the enforcement of the Traffic Act and related regulations this year. This will continue throughout the festive season.

We can do much better with the collaboration of everyone and call upon wananchi to report any violation of the law, recklessness on the road and suspicious activity or person to the nearest security agent, police facility or call toll free numbers 999, 911 or 112.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2019!

Mr Boinnet is the Inspector-General of Police.

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