Traffic snarl-ups in the City caused by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visit early this week were excruciating. But of a more frightening and worrying magnitude are accounts of recent road accidents that claimed scores of young lives.
Yet such tragedies can be avoided. Angry as Kenyan citizens were with the traffic jams on Tuesday, to what proportion are we infuriated by regular road carnage?
Or have we just become accustomed to hearing news of people perishing in road crashes? Perhaps, it’s only those who have been directly affected by such a loss in the past understand the magnitude of accidents. For most people, life just goes on.
Accidents are primary cause for spinal injuries and other disabilities. Statistics from National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) indicate that 1,574 people have perished on various roads, with additional 86 in June. Imagine, an average family having five to seven members?
To bring these figures closer home, the total death toll can be calculated, as loss of 276 families this half-year alone, going with an average of six in a family.
The reality is that these deaths are comparable to wiping off whole villages by in epidemic. A friend recounted the horror of watching a lorry ploughing into 13 cars, resulting in the death of four members of a family. We are living in days where death lurks everywhere — terrorism, youth burning dormitories.
Surely, can’t adults behind wheels sober up enough to safeguard lives? Ensure cars are roadworthy, don’t drink and drive, don’t use the phone while driving…
According to NTSA, 90 per cent of accidents are due to human error. Thankfully, in conjunction with AA motors and NTSA, a campaign has been started, dubbed “Msamaria Mwema” (Good Samaritan), to train road users, public service vehicles crew included, to avoid speeding and overloading.
Further, the organisers are offering First Aid lessons to assist those injured, as 57 per cent victims of road accidents die because of mishandling. Behaviour and attitude change will save many lives from road carnage.
While we may be justified in getting angry when traffic snarl ups delay us from reaching our destination on time, let us be more appalled that drivers get behind the wheel without observing necessary safety measures to keep fellow citizens, safe. —The author is Senior Communications and Media Officer, World Vision, Kenya.