For a long time, the relationship between traffic police officers and drivers in Kenya mirrors that of Tom and Jerry cartoons minus the humour and destruction of property.
Many passenger service vehicles (PSV) drivers have bottled up distaste for the law enforcement system. Allegations of bribery, coercion, harassment and forceful arrests animate this relationship. In our numerous interactions with PSV drivers plying different routes in the country, we get an almost homogeneous echo: that many of them prefer alternative routes to avoid police checks whenever possible.
The police, on the other hand say, there is professionalism in law enforcement calling upon drivers to report harassment cases at any police station in the country. To the police, any driver avoiding a police check has something to hide. This kind of relationship is not healthy in a nation grappling with high road crash fatalities.
While we concede that perceptions cannot form a basis of sound judgement on an issue, we believe that these sentiments from PSV drivers form part of a dialogue actors in road safety should consider in policy making. As one of our writers has elaborated in a story in this edition, some developed countries have heavily invested in technology in a bid to monitor the roads.
It is therefore time Kenya made use of technology such as mounted speed cameras to manage errant driving on the roads. The planned move by the government to install cameras in the entire northern corridor is therefore welcome. However, use of technology may only serve to reduce fatalities on specific areas and especially where drivers know they are being monitored.
There is a need for guided road safety campaigns reaching all Kenyans. That Kenya has averaged at 3,000 fatalities from road crashes over the last four years is something that calls for a change of tact in road safety efforts.