13 March 2014

Kenya: Nakuru Highway Among Global 'Roads to Hell'

Nairobi — A British firm has ranked the Nairobi-Nakuru highway among the 22 most dangerous roads to drive on around the world.

An interactive map by Hertfordshire-based company, Driving Experiences, includes ‘fear factor’ ratings for the routes in an article published by the Daily Mail on Wednesday with the Nakuru highway given a high 7.

The ‘roads to hell’ as the British publication christened them range from cliff-top single track roads with deadly drops in Pakistan to highways renowned for their bandits in Mexico.

“Unlike most dangerous roads, it’s not the road conditions but the drivers that are the main hazard on the Nairobi-Nakuru highway.”

“The highway is notorious for drink-driving combined with speeding, poor overtaking and pedestrians in the road which resulted in 320 deaths on the highway in one year alone,” the firm states in the assessment of what is rated the most dangerous road in Kenya.

“Only recently has the Kenyan Government begun to crack down on drink-driving which has previously been a huge problem. Africa is the world’s most dangerous region for traffic fatalities with 24.1 deaths per 100,000 population in 2010,” it adds with annual road deaths in the country pegged at 3,055 per annum.

Speed guns erected by police in the Naivasha, Gilgil and Steiner School sections of the highway during daytime and the ban on night travel by buses have greatly reduced accidents on the notorious highway.

The N2 road in South Africa that runs between East London and Mthatha in the Eastern Cape is the only other killer African highway in the interactive map.

According to Experiences, more people are killed on this stretch of road than any other road in South Africa and the main danger comes not from the road itself, but from the vehicles and drivers using it, driving without due care and attention and speeding.

“The road which cuts through various mountainous areas has many barrier lines for its numerous hairpins, one unnervingly referred to as ‘Hospital Bend’ but many motorists just do not adhere to them,” they add.

The North Yungas road in Bolivia is widely considered to be the world’s most dangerous route and has even earned the nickname of ‘death road’.

The 40-mile stretch of single-track road meanders round cliffs and there are no barriers to protect drivers going in opposite directions from deadly drops.

“With its narrow and uneven tracks which are sometimes only 3 metres wide and very steep mountains and sheer drops of up to 1000m, you can see why! Every year, hundreds of deaths are caused by vehicles plunging off the road while trying risky overtaking manoeuvres,” the report says.

Kenya is currently mourning the loss of 16 passengers aboard an overloaded 14-seater matatu on the Nandi Hills-Chemelil road on Tuesday morning that incredibly, had five survivors from the same family.

Ten of the passengers died on the spot while six others were pronounced dead on arrival in hospital or while undergoing treatment, according to the police and Kenya Red Cross officials.

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