Superhighways give impetus to learn driving afresh
This is indeed a sad week for Kenya as we lay two great men to rest. These individuals had the vision and resolve to change things for the better.
In honour of the Late John Michuki the Police have embarked on a crackdown of traffic offenders.
They have found good reason to finally do their job.
While it may make them feel good it does not at all help the situation if they will not sustain it.
The impunity with which Kenyans drive is of viral proportions and it filters to other aspects of our lives.
We are living in a society so content with mediocrity it hurts to imagine ourselves free from mental poverty.
Why would we knowing and willingly board a dilapidated public service vehicles and proceed to encourage the driver to break every traffic rule in the book just because we did not wake up on time?
Why for example would you walk into a showroom and buy a pickup truck that does not have basic safety features like ABS and airbags and continue to issue it to your team of qualified staff and expect them to drive around the country.
I recently witnessed a Isuzu D-Max pickup lose control and crash right in front of my eyes at a corner because the driver did not know the limits of driving without an Anti-lock braking System (ABS).
You may remember the accident on the news in early 2008 when a hijacked white pickup lost control and rolled, killing and injuring demonstrators on board.
Can anything sustainable be done about our driving?
With our improved road network Kenyans will imagine that something magical has happened and their vehicles have become more stable with amazing powers of speed and control.
Nothing can be further from the truth.
What we forget is that you must only drive as fast as your car can confidently come to a stop.
The Transport Minister should shift focus from the matatu industry and look at the barrage of private and commercial vehicles on the roads.
The Vehicle Inspection Unit should not allow any vehicle without ABS and Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) onto the road.
The pickup mentioned above rolled at the Kisumu-Ahero Junction after failing to negotiate a corner was stopped by a matatu that was picking passengers in the middle of the road at a junction.
The casualties would have been higher but luckily the last row of seats was empty.
How on earth would a public service vehicle blatantly endanger its passengers just 50 metres from where a Road Traffic Survey was being conducted under police supervision?
It is about time the government and its functional agencies put stringent rules that insist on mandatory checks of public service as well as private vehicles.
All garages must be inspected to verify that they are equipped to conduct standard maintenance and repairs on vehicles.
Many accidents on our roads are caused by incompetent drivers behind the wheels of unroadworthy vehicles.
Every driving school must be vetted to determine that the trainers are competent before they can dispense the skills to unsuspecting novices.
Did you know that if you increase your speed from 110kph to 130kph – up just 15 per cent – in reality you jolt your vehicle’s kinetic energy by about 30 per cent.
This means that you will take a lot longer to bring your vehicle to a safe stop.
If you double the speed of an object you quadruple its kinetic energy. Increased kinetic energy means when driving your vehicle at 130kph, you will need 120 metres to bring it to a complete stop.
That is about 30 car lengths or the length of a football pitch. Reducing your speed to 110kph reduces your stopping distance to about 100 metres.
And all this is assuming you have ABS and a set of good brakepads.
Without ABS you can safely double or triple the distance and dig an early grave.
On that note I think the Transport Ministry should urgently write into law that every vehicle on the road today, as a bare minimum, must have ABS and Traction Control.
No vehicle dealer or manufacturer should remove ABS, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) as well as airbags to reduce the price of their vehicles.
Have a safe driving year.