Evaluation of measures/strategies for the prevention of road carnages major urban and peri-urban hot spots

Introduction

Definition of road carnages refer to any event that happens unexpectedly, without deliberate plan/cause or an undesirable or unfortunate happening that occurs unintentionally and usually results in harm, injury, damage, or loss of lives of persons for which compensation or indemnity is legally sought.  Basing this on global general view, the world’s first road traffic accident to occur involved a motor vehicle and it is alleged to have occurred on 31st August, 1869, where Irish scientist, by the name Mary Ward died when she fell out of her cousins’ steam car and was run over by it.

After that, a road Engineer from Britain, by the name J.J. Leeming, compared the statistics for fatality rates in Great Britain, for transport-related incidents both before and after the introduction of the motor vehicle, for journeys, including those once by water that now are undertaken by motor vehicle, for the period starting from 1863 to 1870, where he found out that there were 470 fatalities per million of population (76 on railways, 143 on roads, 251 on water) and for the period starting from 1931 to 1938 ,the figures were 403 (22 on railways, 311 on roads, 70 on water) .Basing on his findings, Leeming concluded that, the data showed that travel accidents may even have been more frequent a century ago than they are now, at least for men.( Leeming, 1969).

A number of issues have been raised as contributors of road accidents in most Africa’s road accident-prone countries. For instance, just like every other African country, Nigeria is not immune to problems of road accidents. A research conducted by Akpogome, 1998, and Atubi, 2012, indicates that Nigeria is ranked the first position in Africa and position two in the world as far as casualty rates resulting from road accidents are concerned.

Equally, the 2006 stats from the Nigerian Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), confirm that the country recorded the highest number of road accident related deaths. Human error is the major contributor to such crashes since it causes about 95% of traffic road accidents in this country more especially during the months of festivals. Narrowing it down, it has become almost normal to hear news about a fatal road accident in our own country Kenya at any given time and this has risen various questions that always lingers in our thoughts day and night, such as; how many traffic police officers gave the speeding or rickety vehicle clearance?, how much money exchanged hands?

Accident rates in Kenya has reached intolerable levels is a fact given the outcries from various points of our nation. The country continues to pay very heavily in terms of human lives, materials and otherwise.  Recently, Kenya has acquired the notorious distinction as a country with the highest road carnage rates in the category of countries at the same stage of development (3rd world countries in the first stages of development).Frankly saying, we lose several thousands of lives to road accidents annually. A number of victims are maimed, others become permanently incapacitated, doomed to lives of perpetual dependency. The cumulative costs to the country, generally, and the families of victims, specifically, must be immense considering that many accident victims are active and economically productive lives. Those maimed require costly long term care both in hospital and at home.

For instance, literature review of road safety in Africa has been organized by the main road safety sectors. Giving an example, the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in South Africa has been one of these sectors.

Looking at this in some other African and world nations;

South Africa road safety management

South Africa abolished NRSC in the early 1990s and has relied on the Directorate of Traffic Safety within the Department of Transport to coordinate road safety activities. Many papers and presentations have discussed road safety management as shown below with the national approach discussed before any regional case studies.

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a.) Road traffic management strategy

This paper provides a summarized broad description towards implementation of the nineteen chapters of road traffic management strategy and includes additional issues provided for in the chapter on “Road Traffic and Safety” in the White Paper on National Transport Policy of the national Department of Transport (Botha, G, Sep-97).

b.) The road traffic management corporation

The current road traffic management picture in South Africa is very gloomy and innovative ways have to found to get out of this perilous situation. To achieve the improvements required, the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) concept was developed. This paper discusses the objectives, functions, duties, financing of the Corporation, so as to enable solve the problem of road accidents (Van Tonder, H, Jul-99).

c.) Towards a quantitative management approach to road traffic safety in South Africa

To successfully reduce the number of road traffic accidents, it was discussed in South Africa that it is essential that limited resources be utilized as effectively and efficiently as possible. This requires that correct decisions be made on required resource levels and on the correct allocation of these resources to the different possible remedial measures. The objective of this paper is to describe how a quantitative management model could be constructed to assist road safety managers and investors in managing road safety in the most efficient way possible (Mollett, CJ, Jul-99).

Tools and mechanisms that have been used to solve the problem of road carnages

Since road carnages have become a critical problem almost in the whole world, various tools and mechanisms have been used to gear towards its solving. These include inter-alia;

a.) Road safety funding

Road safety funding activity was one of the most prioritized mechanism that was used in the areas in the Second United Nations Transport and communication decade in Africa(UNTACDA II),and it was used in the period from 1991-2000. A general review of road safety financing was presented at the most recent Africa Road Safety Conference(Wetteland and Lundebya,1997).

This mechanism was subdivided into sub-mechanisms;-

b.) Self-financing.

Government grants are the main source of funding for road safety activities (traffic policing, traffic signs and hospital treatment, etc.) but this is still found to be insufficient, especially in the areas outside road maintenance and construction (Assum 1997).  As of 1997, Ghana’s National Road Safety Council was receiving less than US$10,000 a year from the government (Kwake et al, 1997) for its operation and publicity activities. Insufficient financing was found in other countries as well with Zimbabwe receiving less than one fourth its requested amount in 1997 (total of $5.1 million instead of $24 million) and the case of Zambia has already been described.

In Uganda, the government spent US$300 million on road rehabilitation in a recent decade, but less than US$ 0.05 per head per annum is spent on road safety publicity and education (Kwamusi, 1996).

In Zimbabwe, in addition to maintaining the Zimbabwe Traffic Safety Board and its activities, the government also used to subsidize defensive driving courses to make them more affordable for drivers in order to avoid causing road accidents. In Zambia, the government has occasionally provided the fuel for the mobile patrols conducted by the Honorary Road Marshalls, private citizens who are authorized to assist in traffic law enforcement (Ross, 1999).

c.)  User fees

User fees were some of the proposed mechanisms to become the long term financial source for road safety work in Tanzania, so as to impose discipline and behavior in roads, such sub-mechanisms included;-

  • Third party insurance levy
  • Annual road safety levy paid by vehicle owners
  • Vehicle inspection fee
  • Driving school levy
  • Driving license fee
  • Portion of road fund
  • Portion of traffic fines (Assum, 1998)

d.) Traffic fines

A share of the traffic fines collected has been requested reserved for road safety in several countries, including Zimbabwe and Ethiopia. No country in Africa is believed to receive any part of the income received from traffic fines for safety measures (unlike Vietnam where traffic fines are allocated to road safety work). These fines have been imposed in-order to ensure that no overloading and any driver found doing it, this fine must heavily be imposed on him so as to act as an example to others, by so doing, and this has reduced road accidents in most parts of Africa.

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e.) Donor financed projects.

Donors have financed most of the major road safety programmes in Africa. This is inclusive of Botswana, Uganda, Ethiopia, Togo, Malawi, and Ghana. An example, Togo was presented, where the World Bank financed road safety project (1991-95), the team included members of the German Road Safety Council and sought the close involvement of Togolese experts. Some of the outputs included:

  • Restructuring and updating of the Togolese road traffic legislation and the production of a rulebook on traffic regulations, licensing requirements for vehicles, licensing requirements for persons, and traffic offences.
  • Standardizing vehicle inspection forms.
  • Developing a six month driving instructor training course which concluded with an exam consisting of a written and oral art, a demonstration lesson and a practical demonstration lesson in the vehicle. Practical training was emphasized and the course included an introduction to first aid provided by the Togolese Red Cross (Toure, 1997).

f.) Planning and design.

This was a tool used in trying to minimize road accidents. While not restricted to Africa, the then Overseas Development Administration (ODA) funded manual “Towards Safer Roads in Developing Countries; A Guide for Planners and Engineers”, is still a key reference for both policy makers and engineers, aimed at using improved road designs. The Road Safety Checklists included were for land-use/physical plans, network planning, highway design, and countermeasures related activities.

A checklist for a site visit to hazardous locations was provided in a separate appendix. Towards Safer Roads has served as the basis of several training courses and a slide pack is also available (TRRL, 1991).

g.) Design guides.

Several design guides in Tanzania have been used as road accidents prevention tool, a safety audit conducted on the Mikumi-Kidatu road, a gravel road which was to be upgraded to bitumen standard was used for this experiment. As with many highways, narrow bridges located on the highway and especially at sharp corners were a safety problem. The design of the upgraded road included the added safety features of;

  1. Pedestrian walkways to the bridges
  2. Speed humps and road signs (including reflective warning signs) at approaches to narrow bridges

Guard rails at bridges and where large drops (above 3 meters) occur

  1. Bus bays and parking areas
  2. Straightened approach to Ruaha Bridge (Kiza and Kayoza, 1997).

Also, a recent World Bank funded project in Uganda was to revise the chapters of the Road Design Manual, which pertained to geometric design, junctions and road furniture (including traffic sings and road markings). Key design features which required priority attention included the need for a wide shoulder (2 m) on Class 1 rural roads. The study proposed the following design elements for urban arterial roads:

  1. Dual carriageway, with a kerbed median and kerb and channel at the outer edge.
  2. Each carriageway 8.0 m width, comprised of 4.5 m lane (including a 1.0 m shoulder for cyclists), and a 3.5 m auxiliary lane.

Pavement markings at 3.5 m from the median

  1. Kerbed median minimum width 1.8m, desirable width 3.0m.
  2. Footpath minimum width 2.0m, typically 3.0m

h.) Identification and improvement of hazardous locations.

A road carnage prevention mechanism used and its purpose was to provide a practical and easy-to-use method for identifying and prioritizing hazardous locations in a given area, and to provide guidelines for establishing the most cost-effective remedial measures for a specific site.

Although a much more simplified approach towards the identification of hazardous locations, and step-by-step procedures regarding the investigation of such sites as well as determining the benefit/cost ratios of possible improvements were given in this manual, much of the information contained was very useful.

To assist the user, a list of collision patterns, their probable causes and general countermeasures were given. Furthermore, the improvement recommended for various type of collisions are described and an estimate of the degree to which these improvements could reduce collisions. Also included are updated collision costs and unit costs of road locations (Opperman, RA, Mar-91)

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i.) Speed control at road works.

Existing and alternative methods of setting speed limits and controlling speed at roadwork sites, used by road authorities, contractors and consultants locally and overseas, were also used as a preventive mechanism towards road accidents.(De Beer, EJH, Jul-90).

The new approach, views and ideas in solving the problem

There is a need to integrate the social, economic and cultural aspects with legal frameworks and policies, since this issue of road carnages has greatly become the slaughter and kiln for human lives. Having been a persisting problem for the last decades, there is need for extra effort in finding out programmes and projects to be implemented in order to burry these irritating and annoying occurrences deep into unexculvable graves.

Basing on a new approach, this proposed project has in it various ideas which upon implementation, will curb this.

These ideas s are based on; Development perspective,

a.) Development perspective.

Kibarani hot spot is located between Changamwe round-about and Makupa police station, Mombasa County .It is the most busiest traffic lane within Mombasa county since it is the entrance of all types of vehicles (passenger vehicles, goods transportation vehicles, personal cars, as well as heavy and light trucks) to Mombasa town ,as well as the main exit from Mombasa town connecting to the Main Mombasa-Nairobi Highway. Due to the increased levels of road accidents in this area, this proposed project focuses to having a super-lane of class A-road constructed, like in the case of Thika super-highway, inclusive of over passes, so as to ensure that all vehicles entering the Mombasa town, they take the upper lane after reaching the Changamwe round about. At the same time, all vehicles moving from Mombasa town, at Makupa point, they can take the lower lane up to a place past round about, then connect to the Main Mombasa-Nairobi highway.

Over-head passes must be inclusive to unable pedestrians cross the busy superhighway at ease without abstracting with the over-speeding vehicles, since each vehicle takes its own sub-lane according to its speed.

Also ,in the so developed super-highway, road culverts must be well defined and constructed to a point of making the road not only beautiful, but also portraying a significance of a modern class road.

Modern technology must be employed as well as use of skilled and qualified labour in order to bring the super-Highway to perfection of the best design that will favour the stakeholders, and be used profitably aiming at sustainable development, putting into consideration the social, economic and cultural aspects.

b.)Illustration of the proposed kibarani super highway model.

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