SOCIETY TALK

Practise road safety during the holidays

Be your brother’s keeper this holiday season by driving safely

In Summary

• Careless driving and driving under influence lead to more accidents during December

Traffic jam in Westlands after a heavy downpour
Traffic jam in Westlands after a heavy downpour
Image: VICTOR IMBOTO

It is that time of the year again, the scorching summer sun brightens the Mombasa skyline and the air is thick from the heat and humidity. When it gets this hot towards the end of the year, we locals prepare ourselves for two things: the upcoming three months of drought, and the incoming flock of domestic tourists.

Last year, I wrote an article on Society Talk about how we, locals, stay indoors as much as we can during this period. This year, however, I would like to tackle the same topic from a different angle.

December is basically the black spot of local transportation. With the increasing numbers of passengers travelling from county to county to join their loved ones for the festivities, the demand for road transportation and PSVs increases exponentially. With many vehicles on the roads, careless driving and driving under influence, the number of accidents skyrocket during the festive season.

As a moderately experienced driver, I got behind the wheel for the first time in a few years. Since my plan is to drive throughout most of the holiday season, I could not help but make my plans with the December rush in mind. Whenever I am behind the wheel, I make allowances for everyone and everything around me.

As always when driving, one has to remember that he/she is not on the road alone. You must always drive by keeping the next motorist in mind. For instance, most accidents happen with one innocent party and one reckless driver. In an idealistic world, each motorist ought to be charged with keeping road safety by strictly abiding to traffic laws.

During a year where we faced the worst pandemic outbreak in the 21st Century and Kenyans were forced to stay indoors during lockdowns and curfew, we somehow still managed to have more road accidents than last year.

However, we cannot always rely on people to do the right thing. We must, therefore, always make room for potential mistakes. Simple things to remember that will allow you to be considerate of the other drivers include: avoiding road rage, avoiding unnecessary overtaking, and the most important thing of all is to not drink and drive. Some people believe they are fine to drive because they have only had a glass or two of alcohol. We must keep aside this mentality and keep safety first at all times.

Kenyans have a habit of overtaking as if they are late for court. Passenger service vehicles and people with sports cars have this habit. They do not want to be stuck in traffic like everybody else and use any means necessary –including driving on pavements- to overtake other cars. This not only endangers the driver and the passengers but also the innocent pedestrians.

The road accidents statistics report published by the NTSA earlier in November, reported that there had been over 3,000 road fatalities since January. The number is almost twice as much as those who died from coronavirus. As of Monday November 30, the number of corona deaths stands at 1,452. During a year where we faced the worst pandemic outbreak in the 21st Century and Kenyans were forced to stay indoors during lockdowns and curfew, we somehow still managed to have more road accidents than last year.

In the month of November alone (which is not covered by the NTSA report), I have noticed that the newspapers report on road accidents almost every single day. Some accidents involving casualties and others including fatalities. We need to do better when it comes to maintaining road safety. We are not only responsible for our own safety when we are out on the road but with the safety of everyone around us. If you see a careless driver, it is best to report them before they can do any serious damage.

Detailed road safety programmes can be found on the NTSA website.