Traffic law enforcement strategies and their effects on road safety on Kenyan National Highways: the case of the Mombasa-Nairobi highway
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Road traffic accidents are a major challenge to the country's economy and public wellbeing with more that 75percent of the traffic casualties being young and productive adults between 15 - 44 years (Nantalya et al 2009:118-124). Odero, Khayesi and Heda (2003: 53) observe that Kenya, with an average of 7 deaths from the 35 crashes that occur each day, has one of the highest road fatality rates in relation to vehicle ownership in the world. They also add that nearly 3,000 people are killed on Kenyan roads annually. This translates to approximately 68 deaths per 1,000 registered vehicles, which is 30-40 times greater than in highly motorized countries. This exerts a lot of pressure on the economy, but road safety measures in place are ineffective, and enforcement is characterized by knee-jack crackdowns on motor vehicles following major road traffic accidents an indication that something is wrong. The behaviors exhibited by traffic law enforcers in the course of their duties such as arbitrary flagging down of vehicles come with a lot of consequences like overloading of vehicles passengers and goods, use of defective vehicles on the road, exceeding speed limits, failure to adhere to statutory provisions like driver and crew compliance and worse of all, lack of public confidence. This study was to find out how effective Traffic Law enforcement strategies are along the Mombasa-Nairobi Highway guided by accident statistics which indicate a rising trend despite the numerous government interventions. It involved drivers and crew of long distance p.s.v's, long distance truck drivers and crew and, Traffic Law enforcers all on the Mombasa-Nairobi Highway. A total often p.s.v drivers and ten p.s.v crew, twenty five drivers and twenty five crew from long distance trucks and thirty Traffic law enforcement officers between the rank of chief inspector and constable were interviewed. The police officers were drawn from the Traffic bases along Mombasa-Nairobi highway which included Embakasi, Athi River, Makindu and Mlolongo weighbridge. The study found out that Traffic Law enforcement was inadequate leading to the increasing number of accidents. A number of issues were attributed to this factor among which were, the lack of equipment, weather conditions and offering of bribes to the police by drivers and crew at the expense of adhering to road safety requirements. This was found to be the major cause for the failure of effective Traffic law enforcement along Mombasa-Nairobi highway.