Violence and Injury Prevention

Road safety in Kenya

WHO/E. Krug

The Global status report on road safety 2013 estimates that more than 8400 people are killed in road traffic crashes in Kenya every year. The majority of these are vulnerable road users – pedestrians, motorcyclists, and cyclists. More than one-third of these deaths are among vehicle passengers, many of whom are killed in unsafe forms of public transportation. Kenya is one of the countries included in the Bloomberg Philanthropies Global Road Safety Programme which is being conducted over five years (2010-2014) by a consortium of international partners together with national governments and local organizations.


Kenya road safety project

The overall goal of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Global Road Safety Programme in Kenya is to support the Government of Kenya to implement good practices in road safety in line with the priorities of the newly created National Road Safety Authority. The focus of the project is on promoting helmet-wearing among the drivers and passengers of motorcycle taxis, commonly known as “boda-boda”, as well as on preventing speeding on the main highways.

In the context of the project in Kenya, WHO assesses legislation and advises on possible improvements, develops social marketing campaigns and measures their impact, hosts workshops for journalists, and provides road safety equipment to local implementers. The Association for Safe International Road Travel supports NGOs in their advocacy efforts, the Global Road Safety Partnership trains the police on enforcement, and Johns Hopkins University, through its International Injury Research Unit, conducts monitoring and evaluation activities.

The project is being implemented in:

  • Thika (Kiambu County)
  • Naivasha (Nakuru County)

The combined population of these focus sites is around 2.3 million people.

Key results

Between 2010 and 2013, there has been a doubling of the number of motorists complying with the posted speed limit on the Thika highway, while there has been a small increase in the percentage of motorcycle drivers and passengers correctly wearing a motorcycle helmet across both intervention sites.

WHO-supported activities

Legislation

In 2011, WHO conducted an assessment of the comprehensiveness of road safety legislation in Kenya that revealed a number of gaps in several areas, including speeding particularly around schools, drink–driving, child-restraint use, and motorcycle public service vehicles known as “boda boda”.

With WHO support, the National Assembly of Kenya passed the Traffic (Amendment) Act in 2012 which makes a number of important improvements, particularly with respect to penalties for all road traffic violations and establishment of a demerit point system. In addition, the National Assembly created a National Transport and Safety Authority. WHO also facilitated revision of the Kenya national motorcycle helmet standard by the Bureau of Standards/Road Vehicles Technical Committee and is funding a study of the availability and access to quality helmets for motorcyclists which will be used to plan implementation of the new standard.

Social marketing

WHO produces evidence-based mass media campaigns after extensive research and testing conducted with target audiences. The following social marketing campaigns for radio and outdoors to prevent speeding and promote motorcycle helmets have been developed, aired and evaluated in Kenya.

Slow Down, Speed Kills (2013)
No Helmet, No Ride (2012)

The evaluation of this campaign indicated that 84% of respondents had seen the print ads and 70% had heard the campaign on radio.

Working with the media

Media reporting on road safety is an important mechanism for raising awareness among the general public and promoting specific policy changes by policy-makers. Between November 2011 and July 2012 WHO organized two workshops in Nairobi on both general road safety concepts and on road safety legislation. About 30 journalists, mainly from print media, participated in these workshops. Prior to each workshop a roundtable was organized with about 20 editors to discuss the results of the media coverage assessment conducted on a random sample of 200 news items.