Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Characteristics of motorcycle related injuries in Kenya

SPHPM’s Chebiwot Kipsaina has co-authored a publication with researchers from the University of Nairobi and AMEND, identifying the various factors involved in motorcycle related traffic injuries in Kenya.

Current statistics indicate that road traffic related injuries represent close to 1.24 million deaths per annum, with over 20 million individuals suffering injury due to a road traffic related incident.

Furthermore, the highest road fatality rates are within the African region, with evidence demonstrating that there are 24.1 deaths per 100,000 population.

However, in direct contrast, the area has the lowest motorised rate with only 2% of the world’s vehicles out of the six WHO regions. The approximate road fatality rate for Kenya is currently 20.9 per 100,000 population which is far higher than European regions, whose rate is 10.3 per 100,000.

In 2008, the Kenyan Vision 2030 was created with the goal of shifting Kenya into a middle-income region. A part of achieving this goal is to develop and improve transportation with the government seeking to focus on current road infrastructure as well as targeting road safety. Kenya established the National Transport and Safety Authority in 2012 as the primary authority on the field of safety and transportation. The NTSA has identified that motorcycle transportation is a key obstacle in minimising the number of road traffic injuries within Kenya.

Data obtained from official statistical departments highlighted that in Thika, 54 school children died, 165 were grievously injured and 49 sustained slight injuries due to road traffic related incidents in 2012. All of these children were injured due to being knocked over by cyclists and motorists whilst they were making their way to and from school. These statistics are not uncommon across Kenya, with the NTSA reporting that 13,028 individuals were involved in road related incidents. Over half of these incidents (62%) happen amongst pedestrians, cyclists and two or three wheeler drivers, identified as vulnerable road users. This pattern of incidents is consistent across other African regions such as Nigeria and Ghana.

The rise in the number of road users utilising motorcycles has been explained through the ease of access, reduced prices and an unregulated market of motorcycles within these regions. There is no official data on the number of registered motorcycles but some sources have stated that they represent 70% of motorised vehicles registered each year. Whilst legislation is in place such as requirement to wear helmets, reflective clothing and possess a valid licence, enforcement is minimal and ineffective. Resulting from this are high economic and social costs for Kenya as the NTSA estimates that these incidents cost KSH 14 billion (which is 5% of the country’s GDP). The intention of this study was to better grasp the various risk factors and characteristics causing road traffic incidents amongst the vulnerable road user communities. This information can be used to minimise the current prevalence of road traffic related injuries and deaths within Kenya.

The researchers conducted a cross-sectionals survey of all motorcycle drivers who were part of a road traffic incident. This was implemented across eleven different urban and rural rites in the town of Thika. This was through the use of face to face structured interviews. Data obtained included demographic characteristics of drivers, details regarding any crashes and the resulting socioeconomic impact of sustained injuries.

The results indicated that of the 200 injured motorists, 98% were male. Out of this group, 33% of drivers did not wear any protective gear or equipment. The most reported factor involved was reported as negligence of the driver, with the following reasons including speeding and slippery roads. Furthermore, the chance of an individual sustaining injury was 1.3 times more likely in individuals who had not had any previous education on prevention of such incidents, compared to those who had received educational information. Only 8.5% of motorists involved in an accident reported the accident to the police department.

The authors conclude that most of the motorcycle related road incidents happen within young male drivers. These injuries can mostly be attributed to negligence by the driver as well as not wearing the appropriate protective equipment. Another contributing factor can also be determined as lack of necessary education. Therefore, the authors recommend strategies targeted at wearing protective equipment (such as helmets) and advocacy for responsible driving and reinforced legislation.

You can read the whole article here.

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