Speed limits and speeding in the Kenyan driving test

Speed limit sign on Eldoret Road SmallSpeeding is a major contributor to road accidents, fatalities and injuries. And while the National Transport and Safety Authority is required to erect and maintain road signs indicating maximum speed limits along all roads, it is still necessary to be aware of these limits for purposes of the theory part of the Kenyan driving test. It also helps you tailor your driving style to the roadway environment in which you will find yourself.

Speed Limit 100Exceeding the posted speed limit (commonly referred to as “over speeding” in Kenya) is an offense that, if detected, can result in heavy fines, or worse depending on the severity of any resulting mishap. However, inappropriate speeding can also occur when one drives within the speed limit but too fast for the road, traffic, pedestrian, lighting and weather conditions, also with terrible potential consequences. An example is when approaching a bend or junction or overtaking where it is inappropriate to do so.  Judgement is therefore very important.

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Road and kerb markings of Kenya


Often, when we think of road signs, we limit ourselves to those that are mounted on poles set alongside the roadways. Indeed that is what our previous post focused on. But there is more to road signs, and the driving test includes questions to probe your knowledge of this area. Under Kenya’s Traffic Act, Carriageway and Kerb signs are Class D signs. Some of them are mandatory and must be obeyed, others convey warnings and yet others provide helpful information. In this post we summarize these signs. Full details are in our upcoming book.

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Road signs of Kenya and their meaning

Click to download Regulatory Road Signs of Kenya ebookIf you are preparing for your Kenyan driving test, keep in mind that you will need to demonstrate your knowledge of road signs of Kenya in order to pass. In any case, it is a good and responsible personal practice to know the Kenyan rules of the road before taking your vehicle out on public roads. Passing the theory part of the test requires that you be able to identify and describe the recognized road signs, what they mean and the differences between signs that seem similar to a casual observer. This post helps demystify this topic and also introduces you to supplementary resources to help you in your preparation. Continue reading

US research: Passengers who speak up reduce reckless matatu driving in Kenya

Research conducted over a period of one year into July 2012 among matatus in Kenya shows that encouraging passengers Matatu - Kenya's prevalent form of public transportto speak up can improve road safety and consequently save lives and injuries on Kenyan roads. The results, from work by two researchers at Georgetown University in the US was published in August 2015 by the National Academy of Sciences of the United States.

The researchers studied 12,000 matatus during the period, examining the reduction
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Is it so hard for drivers to share roads with other road users?

Kenya Road Sign - Roadworks in Progress AheadA driver overtakes another car at speed alongside a narrow
section of urban road where a new pavement is being constructed, leaving pedestrians (who have been pushed out unprotected onto the street for the duration of the construction — in itself an issue) and construction workers in a cloud of dust. The approach to the section is announced with a road sign indicating “Roadworks Ahead.” To make it worse, that section is right ahead of a bend in the road (which itself is announced by a road sign). How many things are wrong in this all too common scenario on our streets across the country? What could be going on in the mind of such a driver?

Kenya Road Sign - Sharp bend to the leftDrivers of cars and light vehicles account for only 10% of the approximately 3,000 road traffic fatalities experienced in Kenya per year. The rest consist of passengers in cars and light vehicles and pedestrians. And contrary to conventional wisdom, deaths from accidents involving buses account for only 4% of the annual fatalities. So it is not an overreach to remind individual drivers of the huge responsibility that accompanies taking control of vehicles on public roadways. Indeed, Kenya Police data from 1990 shows that 85.5% of the 13,400 (rising to 14,208 in 2012) road traffic accidents resulted from poor human behavior.

Developing good driving habits is very important. This 10 minute video does a great job of reviewing how to be prepared and to take defensive action while navigating busy city streets. Although it is from a UK driving school, the principles are broadly applicable here on our crowded Kenyan roads and, thankfully, the UK is another drive-on-the-left country.

Good habits start by acquiring both the theoretical and practical knowledge involved in sharing our public roadways from the multitude of other road users. Pedestrians, animals and other drivers complicate the driving experience as they may take unpredictable actions. It is dangerous to assume that the car ahead will continue at the same speed or direction, or that the vulnerable child or elderly pedestrian on the pavement will not unexpectedly cross the road without looking in your direction. Being prepared to take safe action is the hallmark of good driving. Once you have viewed the video above, reinforce your knowledge of Kenyan road signs by taking our free online driving quiz available here.

Driving schools play an important role in preparing driving learners for the mandatory driving tests. Obviously the quality of instruction varies greatly. However, like in other areas of training, the Internet provides access to a trove of resources that can help learners not only prepare for the driving test, but to actually become better drivers regardless of the quality of driving school instruction and indeed the driving test itself. Given the critical responsibility we assume when we drive, we need to ensure that we are going the extra mile in terms of preparedness, behavior and focus on the job every time we venture out.

What do you know about sidewalk road signs?

Sidewalk signage in Nairobi

Sidewalk signage in Nairobi

Kileleshwa Ring Road has some of Nairobi’s best sidewalk infrastructure, not to mention the roads and bright working streetlights.

These sidewalks are a huge relief to the numerous people who use them every day particularly during rush hour. It is amusing though to note the puzzling animal droppings on the pavements until you hear the clip-clop of the occasional horse.

I’ve had many opportunities to use these streets on foot and to appreciate the excellent signage all along. But after witnessing a speeding cyclist almost knock down a hapless pedestrian, I got to wondering how well the sidewalk users really understand the signage displayed prominently and frequently. Some of these signs are aimed at pedestrians, cyclists and drivers of animals.

Motor vehicle drivers are assumed to be aware of and understand road signs as a result of the driving test requirement. But what about road users for whom there is no requirement to take such classes? For example, how many of the users in these pictures really know what these three signs in the picture above mean and whom they apply to? Do you?

Test yourself on this and other public road knowledge by clicking here to take our free Kenya Driving Quiz available here. You can also click here to request our free Road Signs of Kenya ePamphlet.

Do we in Kenya treat driving knowledge too lightly?

If you do not read this post completely, just note that our free convenient driving quiz, available here, can help you prepare for your driving test, or refresh your knowledge if you are a long-time driver.

Plenty has been written about the gauntlet that is the Kenyan driving test experience. From this BBC reporter actually taking the test and reporting on it in 2001, to a local Kenyan journalist who went undercover and did the same in 2013, to this exasperated but thankful local Facebook user eliciting enthusiastic comments on his experience in 2013, and this American infectious disease researcher whose pithy diary is laced with irony and humorous descriptions of his 2014 driving school and test experience.

It is entertaining, even cathartic, to make fun of the folly of the driving schools, driving test officers and the Police administration. Indeed they should be censured, and pressured to do their jobs much more professionally. Nevertheless, we must not overlook the fact that regardless of the futility of the testing process, there is still a serious Knowledge (with a capital “K”) involved in taking such powerful and potentially dangerous machinery onto our public roads. We might think – or not – that we are going to be accountable to the Police or the courts for our driving mistakes (and thus the urge to only observe the rules of the road while in the vicinity of Police presence.) In reality, we will ultimately be individually accountable to each other and to ourselves, and to God. The truth is that, ultimately, by individually treating this Knowledge lightly we are only lying to ourselves in the biggest way, with potentially grievous results.

Many say that Kenyans do not place a high value on human life. Where better to find confirmation of this maxim than on the public roads? And in comments made proudly about having circumvented the Knowledge and still being licensed to take on dangerous weapons? Ultimately, there surely isn’t much of a reason for pride. Indeed shame should be the accompanying demeanor.

This is why it is very important to put in the effort before, and especially after the driving lessons and tests to ensure that our Knowledge and clarity about the rules of the road and how to handle vehicles remains fresh and top of mind every time we assume the hallowed role of driver on public roads. It is all well and good to cram the road signs the night before the driving test, but unlike that science or history cramming session, this is knowledge that could mean death or grievous injury for you or others. Therefore after you have miraculously passed the driving test, be sure to regularly review the rules of the road and particularly road signs in Kenya. This is something that you have complete control over. Our free online driving quiz can help you do that conveniently. Find it and use it here.