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Strict traffic law to curb fatal school van related accidents

The Government has adopted new road safety measures to reduce accidents involving school buses.

Under the new regulation, all buses will be painted yellow with school names written in bold black letters as a security measure.

The new Traffic (Amendment) Bill 2017 was signed into law by President Uhuru Kenyatta on a ‘black’ Friday after a six-year-old pupil in Mombasa was run over by a school bus he was riding on, igniting a heated debate on social media on the safety of children using the buses.

Jeremy Masila, a Kindergarten Three pupil at St Augustine Primary, was crushed to death after he sank through a hole left open in the bus, ferrying pupils without seat belts, rusted floor and delicate to withstand heavy weight.

The Act has repealed (Cap 403) of the Traffic Act. It creates stiffer penalties for those who breach the rules. Any driver who flouts the speed limits of not more than 50 km per hour risks a Sh25,000 fine.

This will prevent drivers from exceeding the speed limit of 50km/h as stipulated in the Act. The new legislation has also tasked the Kenya National Highway Authority with the responsibility of ensuring that traffic signs as placed in designated areas are adhered to. “A vehicle meant to ferry children for any school or non-school related activity shall be fixed with safety belts,” the Act stipulates.

The aperture in the floor of the van through which a pupil mysteriously fell

All vehicles approaching learning institutions shall be driven at a speed not exceeding 50km per hour. They will stop operation in between 10pm and 5am.

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A 2016 report by the Traffic Department paints a gory picture. It states that majority of school going children perish on the roads while traveling to and from school. The report indicated that about 400 pupils, majorly in urban areas die through road accidents annually.

The report also showed that 70 per cent of children walk to school. Studies have shown that if a person is hit by someone driving at a speed of 30kph, he/she has a 95 per cent chance of survival.

If the speed is up to 50km, the survival rate reduces to 45 per cent while if the speed is more than 60kph survival rates drop to 10 per cent.

The Executive Director of the Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT) Bright Oywaya, painted a sad picture when he explained that this means that 2,000 children have died in the last five years.

Oywaya, however, faulted the set speed limit which he argues is not protecting children.

The National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) said in a statement it will charge the school management. The tragic news comes when memories of a similar incident are still fresh on Kenyans’ minds.

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A three-year-old Kindergarten pupil was in 2015, run over by the van dropping him from a school in Nairobi.

(See editorial)

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