By Winnie Kabintie
Causing death through careless driving is a criminal offence, which under section 46 of the Traffic Act carries a maximum but not a mandatory sentence of ten years imprisonment.
“Any person who causes the death of another by driving a motor vehicle on a road recklessly or at a speed or in a manner which is dangerous to the public, or by leaving any vehicle on a road in such a position or manner or in such a condition as to be dangerous to the public, having regard to all the circumstances of the case, including the nature, condition and use of the road and the amount of traffic which is actually at the time or which might reasonably be expected to be on the road, shall be guilty of an offence whether or not the requirements of section 50 have been satisfied as regards that offence and be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years,” reads the Traffic Act.
Even with such stringent legal provisions the numbers of deaths on our roads keeps soaring by day, mostly because culpable drivers are not brought to book.
Kenya loses an average of 3000 lives through road accidents annually, placing it among countries with the highest road carnage globally.
According to the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) 2,807 people have lost their lives on the roads between 1st January- April 5, 2018 because of crashes.
While the government has put several measures in place to curb road accidents, recent occurrences that left dozens of people dead and scores injured illustrate that they are just not working!
On Wednesday, a horrific accident made headlines after a bus plunged into river Siyiabei in Narok County killing 19 people and left at least 50 others injured.
Preliminary reports by the police indicate the bus driver was over speeding when, based on eye witness accounts, he reportedly lost control while trying to avoid ramming into an oncoming truck.
This brings us to the typical approach to road accidents in Kenya where everyone blames “the other motorist”, never themselves.
Punish Killer Drivers
Last year the country recorded the highest number of people killed in road accidents since records began and although I cannot authoritatively say that none of the responsible drivers are facing any charges in court, the fact that there no headlines or police reports on the same is telling.
Recall the Sachagwan accident in December that killed 30 people? The accident, which involved multiple vehicles, occurred after a truck driver who was being chased by NTSA lost control of the vehicle and hit oncoming vehicles. The crash involved a Modern Coast Bus, four Nissan matatus, a truck and several other private vehicles.
22 people died on the spot, 8 while receiving treatment.
Has anyone been brought to book for this?
While we acknowledge that the offence of causing death by dangerous driving is not an ordinary type of crime whereby the offenders have no proclivity for it, there is a lot of madness on our roads. I have seen scores of mad drivers for instance, not just on one occasion but routinely, driving on the wrong side of the Thika Superhighway and especially at the exit 9 inbound, in an effort to circumvent traffic snarl up on the Githurai service lane. The crooks will use the entries to exit the carriageway and vice versa and they will also shamelessly stop in the middle of the highway to drop passengers!
We have all came across drivers overtaking dangerously even at sharp corners and at the very worst some driving under the influence of alcohol especially over the weekends. Statistics show that most traffic crashes are recorded over weekends; Friday, Saturday and Sunday in order of frequency.
Unless we come up with drastic measures to punish killer drivers, unless the government takes back our roads from the matatu mafia that have taken control, we will continue singing the road safety song until kingdom come and the carnage will continue.