In Summary
  • The fines levied for traffic infractions are both punitive and a revenue source for the government.

  • They are not going anywhere any time soon. However, there is also a need to incentivise road courtesy and good driving.

  • Several entities are hard at work collaborating with my company to come up with effective structures that will reward competent helmsmanship.

Hello Baraza,

My observation is that a majority of Kenyan drivers are reckless and inconsiderate, yet will ask God why he allowed an accident to happen or blame the devil for their own failings. It beats me why the simple act of dimming lights at night for an oncoming vehicle is hard for most drivers, especially those who drive trucks, buses and a slew of personal vehicle owners who have mounted blinding xenon lights.

I must admit you have a great following, and it is my humble request that you create a section that addresses road civility. It beats logic for you to offer someone advice to buy a great car yet that person lacks the civility of handling that car on the road, which then contributes to the accidents we keep reading about every day.

Other observations I have also noted are:

Failing to indicate or indicating just immediately when about to negotiate a corner, not realising that the car behind can ram them.

Treating zebra crossings as a nuisance, especially here in Nairobi. Most drivers accelerate when approaching a zebra crossing but “pretend” to observe when a policeman is around.

We have allowed motorcyclists to wreak havoc on our roads, and they have since become untameable and a danger to everyone, including themselves, given that they do not care about traffic rules nor regulations.

Those concerned also need to put up clear road signs, especially where there are road bumps. It’s perilous hitting an unmarked road bump at 80km/h especially at night.

Lastly, I’m alarmed by the draft proposal prepared by NTSA to bring sanity on our roads. What I’m reading from it is not how it will make it safer for everyone using a vehicle, but what the government will collect from vehicle owners. I think we try solving a change of consciousness by penalising monetarily. In Tanzania along highways, there are banners written “Fuata sheria bila kushurutishwa”. Whatever they’re doing seems to work well since there are few road accidents being reported.

I know you care about safety, which is why you were invited to that road safety academy in the US, though it was about safety features in vehicles. I’m asking you to use your Nation forum to also educate us about consciously learning to make travelling on our roads safer by first changing our attitudes.

Thank you. Mike.

Hi Mike,

I agree with you that a large proportion of road users lack either sense or courtesy, or both, but I do take exception to your proposal that I assume anybody seeking advice from me is a Neanderthal behind the wheel in desperate need of some unsolicited tuition on how to share the road with others.

That assumption is insulting on a lot of levels: the first being to my inquisitor who, by asking about which car is better than the other, presumably got their licence from a legitimate driving school and was raised by capable parents. By telling them things they probably already know, it comes off as pompous and patronising and may undermine anything else I offer because that will now be received with hostility (“Does he think he is better than us?”).

It may be insulting to the driving school they went to and its instructors, and lastly, it is insulting to my readers because as mentioned earlier, unwanted help or advice broadcast from an ivory tower makes the crier sound pompous, of which I am not, despite appearances. So, no, it does not beat logic that I advise someone to buy a great car then fail to lambast them for being inconsiderate on the road. It is only appropriate that I answer questions as they have been asked. I prefer giving people the benefit of the doubt, despite appearances.

CALLOUS

That said, there has been no shortage on matters road safety, road usage and road courtesy in this column, and would you look at that, here is another! So you and fellow readers are well covered on that end.

Now, the points you bring up are all valid, however:

Failing to indicate is difficult to prove and penalise, and is usually the result of ignorant and callous behaviour on the driver’s part, ignorant because disuse of trafficators is indicative of a lack of formal education (the fellow skipped driving school, and most probably a few other schools along the line as well) and callous because it is very selfish and inconsiderate springing a surprise on other road users and expecting them to react pleasantly.

There are jokes that have been made about this kind of thing, but I never laugh at that idiocy because I have a personal principle that disallows me from responding to non-issues.

Since there aren’t any punitive legal structures (that I know of) in place for those with trafficatorphobia, we can come up with our own socially punitive ones.

SOCIOPATHS

So many people have dashcams on their cars — use these in a name-them-and-shame-them campaign that will put the limelight on these sociopaths to the point their friends and family will get sick of it and tell them, “Just use your indicator lamps, man, you are now embarrassing us.”

Pedestrian crossings, (we don’t call them “zebra” crossings anymore because very few zebras have actually used them and the label carries racist undertones that don’t sit well in these overly politically correct times), are a good place for the authorities to harvest as much money as they can from errant drivers. Many of them have CCTV camera monitoring as well as foot-bound police officers. Anybody who disrespects the Sanctity of the Stripes gets fined, and heavily at that. We will soon see discipline resume.

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