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Health & Fitness

Tough road safety laws without enforcement can’t curb carnage

Motorcyclists transport their clients to and
Motorcyclists transport their clients to and from the busy Kisii town. By virtue of their design and small size, bicycles and motorcyclists are deemed less deserving of our roads by motor vehicle drivers. PHOTO | FILE |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

The tragic deaths of several young college students occasioned by a road accident in Kisii last week adds yet another dark spot in our grim road safety statistics. The unabating carnage puts to question existing efforts to tackle the problem.

As it stands the Traffic Act and numerous other road safety related regulations are not really achieving desired outcomes. Part of the reason seems to be a disconnect between the drafters of the laws, its implementers and those who they are meant to safeguard.

On one hand, we have the builders of the roads whose mandate is to ensure the designs factor in safety concerns.
The motorists are expected to follow the set rules for smoother and safer conduct on the roads and are a manifestation of society’s will to road reforms. The police are the referees and should ideally ensure that the laws are followed.

Unfortunately all have abdicated their roles and regardless of how safe our roads are built or how many regulations we have, we shall not achieve the desired goal of safe roads unless we collectively accept to do so.

The current structure where the police are the only people actively involved in implementation of the safety laws is perhaps to blame. Do county authorities and health workers have any role to play in road safety?

Recently the Transport PS announced an additional road safety guidelines aimed at reducing motorcycle related accidents and deaths. Like many other government policies, we fail to realise that the problem isn’t a lack of but rather implementation of laws. There is glaring laxity in enforcement of traffic rules.

One such area in particular regards the safety of non-motor vehicle road users. As the popularity of bicycles and motorcycles rises, we need to make their users aware of need to have protective gear just in case they are involved in an accident.

In hospital emergency room settings, the odds of surviving a motorcycle accident are both related to the extent of head injury that is easily preventable by a quality helmet. Similarly the number of riders and the speed of the motorcycle also plays a role.

Obviously these three parameters can be addressed if we are willing to.

That said, motorcyclists, are also a vulnerable group as they are forced to share roads with other users. By virtue of their design and small size, bicycles and motorcyclists are deemed less deserving of our roads by motor vehicle drivers.

Along major highways, those using two wheel commutes endure a daily risk of being knocked down and bullying on the road is the norm for them. With a growing culture of bikers there is a need to protect them too.

From the healthcare perspective, road accident hospital admission expenditures that counties shoulder can be minimised.

Unfortunately, county authorities have not been proactive enough in tackling road safety issues. Ideally they should be partnering with traffic police to nab offenders and where the latter fail, air such grievances loudly and regularly.

In my county, for instance, a rather unfortunate scene plays out where juvenile riders sometimes as many as five on one motorcycle ride on our roads. Many too ride without reflective gear, have bad rear lights or none at all and are also riding without licences.

While the new guidelines are good, perhaps we should try implement those we have.

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