Will The New Digital Driving Licenses Improve Road Safety?

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Earlier this year, the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) announced their intent to launch smart driving licenses. This was done in a bid to improve motorist safety on the roads. This came after NTSA signed a 2.1 billion contract with the National Bank of Kenya for the manufacture of these digital licenses. According to Njeri Waithaka, the Director of Road Safety, the electronic chip-enabled driving licenses will store key details of a driver. The chip stores driving histories and serve as a payment wallet straight into The Judiciary.

However, the new licenses set to be released this month are yet to include the instant fine capability which is still subject to court determination. This rule will require motorists who commit minor offences such as talking on the phone while driving, failure to wear seat belts, driving on footpaths, motorcycle riding without protective gear etc. to pay a part with a fine between 500 to 10,000 shillings. These cards will also come loaded with 20 points to be deducted every time a motorist commits traffic offences such as speeding. Continuous offenders who exhaust their points will permanently lose their licenses.

A study carried out on ways to combat road traffic accidents revealed that poor driver error makes up to 85.5% of accidents on the road. These new licenses are aimed at curbing driver or motorists’ behaviour. Today, our streets are littered with reckless people behind the wheel. People whose only agenda is to get to their destination as fast as they can regardless of the consequences. Things only get worse during traffic hours. The notorious buses that swerve around are enough to make one dread the idea of being on the road. I cannot count the many times I have been in these buses only to have them carelessly switch lanes missing other vehicles by an inch. One results to clinching their handbags in fear as they murmur silent prayers under their breath.

Drunk driving may seem fun when you are behind the wheel but there is nothing funny or safe about driving under the influence of alcohol. World Health Organization (WHO) listed drunken driving as a major cause of road accidents in Kenya. Drunken drivers think that since they made it home once, they will make it home safe again. The simple fact that these drivers fail to understand is that putting those keys in the ignition not only puts their lives at risk but also risks other peoples’ lives. Under these new rules, a driver caught driving under the influence will be liable to loss 10 out of the total 20 points. If caught on the wrong side of the law again, they will permanently lose their license. That is enough to get one to think twice before getting behind the wheel when intoxicated.

The NTSA will also share the information on rogue drivers with insurance firms. These will see such drivers premiums rise as they will be deemed risky clients. From the reaction drivers get when their car gets a tiny scratch, I doubt anyone is up to pay higher premiums for their insurance. The other notably crazy hooligans on the road are motorcycle riders. I have a broken collarbone to support that claim. We see them zooming past us on footpaths when they miss hitting us by a whisker. These new laws if well implemented will take dangerous driving from our roads altogether.

People need to realize that road safety is not a chorus that people seem to continue singing over the years. People who have lost their loved ones or ended up with a handicap have experienced a great deal of suffering. As we continue to create awareness around the issue, we need to realize that it is our responsibility to ensure that while we are on the road, we heed to road safety rules. They were set for our safety. We also need to fix the mentality that our current road issues are beyond saving. If we cannot reduce the number of road accidents and deaths, who will?

Featured image via www.theeastafrican.co.ke

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