By Stephen Macharia
In a bid aimed at combating speeding and achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of reducing road traffic-related fatalities, the Kenyan government is gearing up to launch an all-encompassing road safety action plan.
The plan, poised to revolutionise road safety across the nation, holds the potential to significantly influence driving speeds and ultimately safeguard the lives of road users.
Under the aegis of the National Transport and Management Authority (NTSA), the Kenyan government has unveiled a sweeping roadmap to address the harrowing statistics of road accidents. This roadmap not only seeks to reduce fatalities but also to usher in a new era of safety for all those who traverse Kenyan thoroughfares.
A paradigm shift in speed management
Central to this ambitious initiative is the adoption of “safe system principles” for speed management. At its core, this strategy advocates harmonising motor vehicle speeds with the functional, utilitarian, and safety attributes of each road. The objective is to establish more uniform speed limits and a more secure road network.
NTSA is on the cusp of introducing an extensive speed limit-setting reform project, aiming to evaluate the current rules and practices governing speed limits on both national and county roads.
This thorough examination is the bedrock for aligning these limits with the safe system principles, giving rise to distinct speed limits tailored to various road types and circumstances.
For instance, NTSA is proposing the following speed zones:
30 km/h Zones: These will be designated in areas where the likelihood of pedestrian and cyclist accidents is high, such as villages, school zones, and commercial areas.
50 km/h Zones: Enforced in areas susceptible to side-impact collisions, such as busy intersections.
70 km/h Zones: Prescribed for areas prone to head-on collisions, notably undivided rural highways.
The future of safe speeds
To exemplify the benefits of applying safe system principles to speed management, NTSA is launching two demonstration projects. One project will focus on rural road networks, while another will concentrate on urban areas. These projects will amalgamate reduced speed limits with infrastructural enhancements, wide-scale information dissemination, and robust enforcement operations. Their ultimate aim is to underscore the advantages of safe speed management across the entire nation.
NTSA is aware that excessive motor vehicle speed is a global concern, and Kenya is no exception. To tackle this issue, a demonstration project employing proven safety technology is on the horizon.
Key components of this undertaking encompass comprehensive legislative and operational adjustments, determining the scope of the demonstration project, deploying various detection systems (including fixed cameras at high-risk sites, mobile cameras for general deterrence, and average speed cameras for lengthy highway compliance), and adhering to top-tier project management practices. Rigorous monitoring and evaluation will be an integral part of this project to ensure its efficacy.
If this initiative is successfully executed, Kenya may will serve as a global model for other countries grappling with the tragic aftermath of road accidents.