More than 90 per cent of Kenyans do not wear helmets when riding on boda boda even though it’s vital in preventing injury or death in a crash, a survey shows.
Almost all female (98 per cent) boda boda passengers do not wear a helmet while at least one in every 10 men wear a helmet.
Most women tend to avoid helmets because they are dirty and to avoid messing up their hairstyle. Some can’t fit in a helmet.
This is despite the fact that wearing a motorcycle helmet correctly can reduce the risk of death by almost 40 per cent and the risk of severe injury by over 70 per cent, according to the World Health Organisation.
The survey was carried out by a group called Stepwise.
Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu has expressed concern that about 88 per cent of Kenyans do not always wear seatbelts when riding in either private or public vehicles.
“Injuries and violence pose a great burden to the health care system through disability and premature death. I urge all of us to embrace personal safety as prevention of violence and injuries begin with the individual,” he said.
Approximately 3,000 Kenyans die every year from road accidents, a figure that has spiked despite stringent traffic laws and regulations in the past few years.
The Kenya Traffic Amendment Act Cap 403 mandates every driver and passengers to always wear a seat belt when inside a vehicle.
This law was in the past enforced under the “Michuki rules” when the Minister for Transport and Communications (2002 to 2005) John Michuki restored sobriety on the public transport sector, that among other things required speed governors and passengers to belt up.
However, now most matatus do not have functioning seat belts and are driven in neck-breaking speeds.
The survey revealed that road traffic injuries are one of the major causes of death among all other injuries that people incur.
The study shows men are three times more likely to be involved in an accident than women.
This is compounded by the fact that five per cent of the men interviewed in the study reported that they had driven under the influence of alcohol within 30 days prior to the interview.
The number of women who had driven under the influence of alcohol within the same period was much lower, at only two per cent.
Drivers aged between 18 and 29 reported the highest number of times that they had been involved in a road traffic crash.
The same age group also reported the highest occurrence of driving under the influence of alcohol.
As of last month, the number of people killed and injured in road crashes in Kenya shot up by 45 per cent between January and March 2016 compared to the same period in 2015.
According to National Transport and Safety Authority website, the total number of victims as of April 7, 2016 was 876 deaths compared to 799 the same time last year.
The bulk of these deaths was in pedestrians (342) followed by motor cyclists (148)
The survey recommends the need to “conduct public education and social marketing campaigns on prevention of injuries.”
Globally, about 1.25 million people die each year as a result of road traffic crashes.
According to the World Health Organisation, road traffic crashes cost countries approximately 3 per cent of their gross national product. This figure rises to 5 per cent in some low-and–middle-income countries.- SOURCE: NMG