By Faith Nyasuguta
Accidents on Kenyan roads shot by 24.2 per cent to 8,919 in 2020 despite the government imposing travel restrictions and curfews to counter Covid-19.
Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) Economic Survey 2021 shows that road accidents jumped in 2020 much as most Kenyans were working from home and moving less at night. Fatalities also rose by 10.8 per cent from 3,586 in 2019 to 3,975 in 2020.
In the past month alone, over 30 people have lost their lives in accidents with the common thread being speeding as the cause.
“Similarly, the number of persons that were seriously injured increased by 15.5 percent to 8,026 while the number of persons that were slightly injured dropped by 4.6 percent to 4,969 in the review period,” the report detailed.
The increase, according to the report, could suggest that during curfews and government restrictions set to limit Covid-19 spread, driving patterns and behavior on the roads significantly changed.
“Drivers who stayed on the roads engaged in risky behavior such as speeding and drunk driving which made the roads deadly. Road users especially rushed to beat curfew in major urban centers, which could have resulted in accidents,” it said.
It added that “drivers involved in road accidents increased by 20.0 percent to 1,753 while those seriously injured increased by 26.6 percent to 824 in 2020.”
Vehicle passenger casualties dropped by 21 per cent to 5,670 as most people worked from home thus reducing public service vehicles’ capacity.
For pedestrians, casualties rose by 8 percent from 2,950 in 2019 to 3,186 in 2020.
Those seriously injured inflated by 17.3 per cent to 1,498 accounting for 47 per cent of all pedestrian casualties.
Things were worse for motorcyclists and pillion passengers as pillion passenger casualties jumped by 48.2 percent to 2,332 in 2020.
In a recent presser, Kenyan government Spokesperson, Col (Rtd) Cyrus Oguna, has blamed the rising accidents on the flouting of traffic rules, including ignoring safety measures, reckless and drunken driving.
Oguna added that the majority of the accidents have been caused by Boda Boda riders (motorcyclists), noting that according to provided data they are killing more people than motor vehicles.
“Most of the Boda Boda operators (motorcyclists) are not trained and openly disobey traffic rules, including carrying excess passengers,” Oguna said.
Road users have been called upon to follow all road safety rules.