UN GLOBAL ROAD SAFETY WEEK OFFERED AN OPPORTUNITY TO DEAL WITH THE NUMBER ONE KILLER OF OUR CHILDREN AND YOUTH
The world observed the 5th UN Global Road Safety Week from 6th to 12th May 2019. This year’s theme was “Leadership for Road Safety” with a call to all to #SpeakUp for road safety. Leaders are defined as influencers and can be found at global, national, community and even at individual levels. The Global Road Safety Week gives an opportunity for countries to focus on road crashes that are rising especially in the developing countries.
Strong leadership is key in ensuring that global and national targets are met. These include targets in the Sustainable Development Goals 3.6 which envisages that by 2020 the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents will be halved. The other target is 11.2 which envisions that by 2030 there will be access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons. These targets are a response to the growing numbers of deaths and injuries from road crashes.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that 1.35 million are killed in road crashes annually while millions are injured. From the Global Status Report, they published in December 2018 road crashes were found to be the number one killer of people aged between 5 and 29 years. This is alarming considering that in Kenya 70% of the population is said to be below the age of 24. School children are particularlyvulnerable as they walk to and from school and most of them are unsupervised. They are exposed to speeding vehicles and infrastructure that does not encourage walking with no facilities like sidewalks. These and other risk factors lead to hundreds being killed annually and others are injured and acquiring permanentdisability annually.
The youth are not spared. They are exposed to the risks of road crashes, first because they form a huge proportion of Kenya’s population and also because our roads do not largely support walking, cycling and skating, activities that many youth engage in. Other risk factors include speeding, non-use of helmets, distracted driving, alcohol, not using seat belts and drug use.
During the 5th UN Global Road Safety Week, ASIRT Kenya engaged the youth and children to make demand for road safety. Four areas of focus were highlighted:
Demand for safe journeys
Demand for improvements to existing infrastructure
Demand for management of speed around roads
Demand for road safety leadership.
ASIRT Kenya involved the communities through an online petition that was signed to support the above demands. ASIRT-Kenya also engaged cyclists, skaters and youth clubs to go around the city and have members of the public sign printed petitions to call on action around the four demands. This was coupled with people taking photos with demand bubbles bearing different messages. The entire exercise resulted in more than 500 petitions being signed and several hundreds of people sensitized on the need to take road safety leadership and demand for action.
On 10th of May 2019 ASIRT-Kenya held an event to climax the activities of the week. This was held at Murema Primary School. The school has a population of over 2000 pupils and the majority walk to and from school, mostly unaccompanied. The infrastructure around the school does not support walking as there are no walkways or designated crossing areas. Our demands for safer journeys, improved infrastructure, speed management and leadership for road safety were relevant to the school situation.
Our efforts were successful as we handed over the petitions to Deputy Director of the National Transport and Safety Authority and got commitment and a signed pledge towards action on our specific demands. The signing of the pledge was witnessed by an official from the Ministry of Health together with road safety NGOs who are also members of the Global Alliance of NGOs for Road Safety.
Beyond the UN Global Road Safety Week, we must all continue to call for action with the recognition that road crashes are a threat to the achieving of SDGs. This is due to the fact that transport and safety are enablers to most of the other goals. Without sustainable transport therefore, it will be difficult to achieve the other goals. ASIRT-Kenya will continue to engage our policy makers to ensure that the pledges made are actualized.
The First International Road Victims' Partnership (IRVP) Conference was held in Mullingar, Ireland from the 16th to 18th March 2018. This a movement with over 96 NGOs who deal with road crash victims and have come together to advance this agenda in this Partnership.The first conference was hosted by the Irish Road Victims' Association. ASIRT Kenya’s Executive Director, Bright Oywaya has been honored to serve on the inaugural board of the partnership.
IRVP has had success in the short time of its existence. ASIRT Kenya as a member of the International Road Victims Partnership (IRVP) participated in putting together a Road death investigation report that will work as a tool to identify gaps and to provide best practices for investigation thus ensuring justice is meted for road crash victims and working towards prevention of road crashes. See details here: https://www.irvp.org/PDF/SurveyRoadDeathIRVPLR.pdf
First responder Courses for matatu drivers and traffic police
The objective of the course is :
To equip the matatu Public Service Vehicles(PSV) drivers and traffic police, with the knowledge and the skills to prevent road crashes and the ability to deal with the casualties in case they witness an incident.
The training is also aimed at enhancing the interagency approach in case of dealing with road traffic crashes
In many incidents the PSV drivers are the first on the scene of many road crashes on major highways across the country. This makes them a possible first resource when it comes to response and assistance to the victims. Many road traffic victims have suffered permanent disability in the hands of untrained responders. To reduce these unfortunate cases of victims being mishandled there is need to train majority of the road users especially the PSV operators and the police who end up dealing with over 70% of cases.
The Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT Kenya) in collaboration with the Emergency Nurses Association of Kenya (ENAK) and other partners conduct these courses with logistical support from Matatu operators and the traffic police who recommend the trainees.
First responder training for traffic police and PSV drivers
Improved relationship between matatu drivers and traffic police
Increased confidence in managing road crash incidents
Transfer of skills amongst peers/ sharing information
Increased road safety Knowledge
School safety program
A growing epidemic of road traffic crashes is devastating the next generation of children around the world. Every 30 seconds a person is killed in a road crash. More than 3300 per day and over 1.2 million people per year die in road crashes worldwide. As many as 50 million are injured. Vulnerable road users particularly at risk, are children. 500 children die every day in road crashes. In many Asian, African, and Middle Eastern countries between 40 and 50 per cent of people killed as a result of a road crash are pedestrians.
In Kenya adults and children are killed every day as a result of road crashes, and tens of thousands are injured, often suffering lifelong disability.
According to the 'Road Safety Status Report 2015' launched by the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA), on 14th January, 2016, a total of 3,057 people lost their lives in road crashes.
Children are vulnerable road users. Anywhere where there is a potential for moving vehicles is a potentially dangerous traffic situation for children. This is because children:
Are easily distracted and focus on only one aspect of what is happening
Are smaller and harder for drivers to see
Are less predictable than other pedestrians
Cannot accurately judge the speed and distance of moving vehicles
Cannot accurately predict the direction sounds are coming from
Are unable to cope with sudden changes in traffic conditions
Do not understand abstract ideas - such as road safety
Are unable to identify safe places to cross the road
Tend to act inconsistently in and around traffic
ASIRT Kenya's interventions towards child safety include:
Having school based road safety campaigns and education/ training programs.
ASIRT Kenya partners with various schools that are near roads and have a record of children being involved in road crashes. The programs involve training of teachers, parents and students.
Kasarani primary School
The children and staff were trained on safe use of roads and given reflective sashes to promote their visibility on roads
2. Promote localized road engineering to keep children safe on their school journey.
This involves mapping out areas near schools and on the school route that are crash prone and have recorded high numbers of crash incidents. These areas require signage and road calming measures like speed bumps and rumble strips. ASIRT Kenya advocates and engages the relevant authorities to push for modification of the environment. This is done by partnering with relevant authorities in the country
Kasarani primary school
With partnership with City Council, a zebra crossing was put on the road at the entrance of the school to facilitate the safe crossing of roads.
3. Encourage and assist parents in forming street crossing patrols for their children.
Through partnering with schools and having access to PTAs, parents are advised to teach their children about road safety. This is sensitization during parents meetings and other interactive school activities. .
With partnership with Usalama Watch Initiative, a person was stationed at the road with a stop and go sign (lollipop) to stop traffic and allow children to cross the road safely.
4. Help communities get organized as a key part of creating the long-term cultural changes that will keep children safer on the roads.
Through sensitizing of people in the community. Plays and skits are carried out during weekends and school holidays that emphasize road safety in a fun way that will engage the children and general public in the accident prone areas.
5. Use of reflective material to promote visibility
Upon completion of the sensitization program, we then issue reflective materials to the children to aid in making them visible when on the roads. These have included sashes, bags and bracelets.