November 10, 2014
Car insurance premiums will decline if motorists observe the 50Kph speed limit, despite the unpopularity of the measure. The recent interest in the enforcement of the 50 Kph speed limit within Nairobi has been more of a nuisance for motorists than a source of confidence in the government’s efforts to curb road carnage. While these efforts are not entirely wrongheaded, the roads chosen for enforcement are mind-boggling. Australia has a 50 Kph speed limit on its roads, and research shows that the enforcement of this speed limit in 2003 led to a reduction of traffic accidents by about 20%. However, the limit is only enforced on residential roads, and not highways and freeways, as is the case in Kenya. It is somewhat confusing for the government to enforce a speed limit of 50 Kph on major highways and the Thika Superhighway whose design allows motorists to drive safely at speeds of up to 100 Kph. That said, from an auto insurance standpoint, some benefits will accrues to motorists based on the lower speed limits. The two main benefits that a Kenyan motorist will enjoy from the lower speed limits are as follows.
First, it is undisputed that speeding is one of the primary causes of road accidents. Therefore, any reduction in traffic speed should result in some reduction in the number of road accidents. Australian researchers confirmed this fact after studying the impacts of the adoption of the 50 Kph speed limit in residential roads in various parts of Australia. The number of accidents reduced by 20% in the areas where the speed limit was enforced. This means that if all motorists in Nairobi stick the 50 Kph speed limit, then there will be fewer accidents on our roads. A low speed limit increases a motorist’s ability to evade an accident. A motorist needs a shorter breaking distance at the reduced speed, and therefore he can avoid hitting an object in his path. In addition, the chances of being rear-ended are fewer because upcoming traffic can halt safely at short notice. Reduced chances of accidents on the road mean that there will be fewer people calling up their insurance agents to discuss car insurance claims.
The second benefit that motorists will experience in relation to their insurance is that in the event of any accident occurring, it will be minor and may not require the involvement of their insurance providers. Scratches and minor dents do not always require expensive garage visits that involve an insurance provider. This means that motorists can enjoy lower premiums in the next insurance cycle based on the non-claims discount offered by many insurance companies. In this regard, the lower speed limits, if observed by all road users, will help to reduce the cost of car insurance because accidents will be fewer and will also be less severe..
The main challenge any law abiding citizen will face while driving on Nairobi roads is that provided the ambient traffic speed is higher than 50 Kph, driving at 50 Kph can be dangerous. Some of the roads where the NTSA is enforcing the 50 Kph limit were not designed for this speed. For instance, something feels unnatural about driving at 50 Kph on some stretches of the Thika Superhighway, and on most of Waiyaki Way. In this case, you are likely to be involved in an accident while driving at 50 Kph than when driving at the ambient traffic speed when it is higher than 50 Kph. This will not help you insurance at all.