Did you know that on average you spend 30 – 50 per cent of the day on the move? Walking, Riding a bicycle, in car(stuck in traffic). You are always headed somewhere, be it school, work, meeting, shopping center or church. It is an easy guess that you want to get there as fast as possible and more importantly, you want to arrive safe. National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) is the government organisation that makes sure that you get there safe but not necessarily as fast as possible.

Traffic Accidents are a leading killer worldwide

HIV/AIDS was the leading killer in the world in 2003 but it has since been overtaken by TB and road accidents as at 2012. The World Health Organisations reports that Kenya has one of the highest road accident numbers. A report, Trends in Causes of Adult Deaths among urban poor reports that deaths due to injuries from accidents increased from 11% in 2003 to 22% in 2012. The number of road accidents has fallen over the last four years by 8.01 % from a high of 3,302 to 3,057. This might look like a relatively small reduction but it isn’t. This is because Kenya’s population has increased by close to 4 million over the same period and thus when the number of fatalities is scaled to 100,000 individuals the reduction in fatalities is very clear.

In absolute figures the number fatalities on Kenyan roads is still quite alarming even if it has slightly gone down over the last 5 years.

It goes without saying that it would be very nice to have zero fatalities on the roads but rationality disabuses that possibility because road accidents are caused by several factors. Some of these factors include human error, mechanical problems and the conditions of the roads. It is hard to tell which of these factors is the leading cause but it is possible to investigate the effect of vehicle populations on the number of accidents.

Over the last 11 years the population of vehicles has increased by 230% from 748 thousand to 2.5 million.

2014 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey reports that 4.6 per cent of the population have motor vehicles/cars. Given that cars have always been used as an indicator of social well being, the growth shown in the chart below could signal an ever increasing income per capita. In fact looking closely at the numbers we see that the population of vehicles per 10,000 people has more than doubled over the last 10 years from a low of 213 in 2005 to 514 in 2015.

It is tempting to believe a direct linear relationship between the population of vehicles and the number of accidents in Kenya but the data shows that this has not been the case.

Looking at the number of fatalities per 10,000 vehicles we see that the increase in the number of motor vehicles hasn’t led to more fatalities. In fact the number of fatalities per 10,000 vehicles has almost halved between 2010 and 2015. This is a great victory and can be attributed to more safety equipment in recent vehicles, regulations and road safety campaigns by the government on road safety as well as improved infrastructure.

Whose life is most at Risk on the Roads?

It is widely believed that pedestrians are the most at risk on the roads and the data confirms this perception.

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Both 2014 and 2015 data show that pedestrians are the most at risk on the road, followed by passengers and motorcyclists. It is worth noting that this could be misleading given that there are more pedestrians on the road than passengers and motorcyclists and given the lack of data on the population of different types of road users it is not easy re-scale these numbers to enable comparability. Additionally, everyone is a pedestrian at some point.

Pedestrians form the largest group pf road accident victims, followed by passengers and motor cyclists. There are more pedestrian deaths compared to the totals of the remaining categories less passengers over the two years. The number of pedal cyclist accident victims has also decreased over the two years which could mean a reduction in the number of pedal cyclists. On the other hand it could imply the roads were safer for cyclists in 2015 than in 2014 as more pedal cyclists have been on the roads in 2015 compared to any of the previous years. This is a good sign considering that many urban cities (New York, London and Copenhagen) have a significant number of pedal cyclists such that they have dedicated lanes for pedal cyclists. The number of pedal cyclists can sometimes be used to show a massive improvement in road safety.

Who causes the most accidents?

The various types of road users include public service vehicles (psv), commercial vehicles, private vehicles, government vehicles, motor cycles and others. NTSA’s data show that psvs, commercial vehicles and private vehicles cause the most number of fatalities.

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It is hard to ascertain the number of different types of vehicles on the road but it is perceivable that there are more private cars on the roads than PSVs. This means that PSVs cause the most number of fatalities on the roads which can be attributed to higher vehicle occupancy and carelessness.

Which is the Riskiest month?

Peak number of fatalities are recorded in December, May and August respectively. Incidentally, these are the months when school holidays begin and end. Generally in absolute numbers there were more accidents in all the months of 2015 compared to those of 2014 except for June, July and August.

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Which is the riskiest day of the week?

There are more deaths on Saturday than on any other day of the week. This is closely followed by Sunday and Friday. This could mean that there are more trips being taken over the weekend compared to weekdays and thus leading to an increase in the number of reckless drivers which directly endangers the lives of other road users. Additionally, it could imply that more people drive under the influence over the weekends that during the weekdays. The safest day of the week is Tuesday.

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What is the safest time of the day in 2015?

Most fatalities occur at 18:00 followed by 16:00 with the least number of fatalities occurring at 01:00 in the morning. It seems road fatalities are a directly proportional to the amount of traffic on the roads. There’s a fall after 8pm with a surge at 10pm which could signify more traffic at that point.

The spike at Five am in the morning is one data point that could be interpreted to mean more drunk drivers are headed home and thus increasing the population of less alert drivers on the road which in itself contributes to more road accidents.

What you need to know

Accidents--Life-isn't-replaceable

On the road home, church, school, work

Prestone Adie


I drive Data Analytics where I surface stories from data that might not be immediately obvious. With a background in Actuarial Science I'm proficient in R and Python for data analysis and takes avid interest in anything data. Find me on twitter Follow @AdiePrestone where we can talk data, street food, cars and books.


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