Phone usage among top causes of accidents in Kenya

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Phone usage: talking on the phone, texting, use of social media is especially dangerous because it combines all the aspects of distraction, it takes your eyes off the road, it takes your hands off the wheel and takes your mind off driving.

“If you are driving at 70 km/hr and you text for five seconds you would have covered a whole football pitch without looking at the road, now imagine how dangerous that is. I’m calling to all Kenyans, all drivers just try to watch out and not to text and drive just try not to use your phone while you are in the car because you can hide your phone and never be seen but you are endangering yourself,” Mr. Fernando Wangila, National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) ICT Head implored.

70% of the vehicles ferrying passengers do not belong to the routes hence move at night to avoid detection said Wangila, the drivers are also not familiar with the route and every year, the tragedy worsens compared to the previous year as most people continue to be negligent and ignore the danger involved in their driving and so, these accidents happen.

“As laws combating traffic accidents are filling the law books, the scale and severity of such accidents is increasing exponentially. It seems that these laws come to exist, in large parts, just to shift accountability to the unknown and to find no person to point the finger at. I see these laws as akin to bailing out a sinking ship with a teaspoon,” he added.

Corruption is a major obstacle to law enforcement hindering progress in lessening the number and severity of traffic accidents in Kenya and to which numerous social and economic problems are traced directly or indirectly.

“There seems to be no genuine will to enforce these laws and empower them. A real solution to this problem is there, concealed in the existing gap between the law itself and what stands behind its effective implementation; corruption. Until this link is effectively broken, these laws will always be futile and may even result in the very real possibility of making the situation worse,” Mr. Wangila stated.

“It is not by chance that we have reached this alarming stage of traffic accidents; it is because circumventing laws has become the norm, aside from our tendency to opt for quick fixes and shortcuts. Traffic rules are respected at the convenience of everyone and the concepts of incentive and punishment are no longer working because corruption opens impunity doors in every direction. Even selective enforcement would indicate that the powerless and vulnerable citizens are at a big disadvantage in a country where all citizens are not treated equally before the law,” he added.

Carelessness is also another major cause of the road accident in Kenya such as; using the mobile phone while the vehicle in moving, breaking the traffic rules, exceeding speed limits, driving while

under the influence, overlapping and many more. Furthermore, inexperienced and untrained drivers and those with blur eyesight drive at night escalating the accident rate in the country.

In order to curb accidents government officials should ascertain that roads are well constructed and maintained and also enforce appropriate legislation to make sure that all commercial and private drivers are well trained before they attain driving license to drive on the roads.

“Traffic accidents reflect the gravity and extent of our failure to fix this problem because we are only scratching at the surface. In fact, all debates about the need for more traffic laws, the need to repair dangerous and defective roads, intricate transport system and how to combat undesirable driving behaviors are irrelevant in a context where corruption flexes a strong grip. All implicated institutions, public and private establishments, are complicit in the traffic crimes we witness every day,” said Mr. Wangila.

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