Anecdotes on Traffic Laws and Regulations in Kenya.

The laws governing traffic control in Kenya include: Traffic Act[1]; National Transport and Safety Authority Act[2] No. 33 of 2012; National Police Service Act[3]; and County By-Laws. (Nairobi City By Laws in Nairobi).

The traffic enforcement agencies include:- National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) established by the National Transport and Safety Authority Act; National Police Service established by the National Police Service Act and Nairobi City County Government through traffic marshals and parking department officers mandated under the Nairobi City County By-Laws.

Common Traffic offences

Some examples of common traffic offences include: failure to wear a safety belt while the vehicle is in motion; motorcyclist carrying more than one passenger; using a mobile phone while the vehicle is in motion; exceeding speed limit; willfully obstructing free passage of motor vehicles; and driving under the influence of alcohol/drugs.

Guidelines on Handling of Traffic Cases[4]

  • No traffic offender shall be held by Police for offences punishable by a fine only or by imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months.
  • No accused persons in traffic cases will be locked up in cells without first being granted time, place and adequate facilities to pay fines or bail.
  • Traffic courts shall process payment of traffic fines in open Court.
  • Release on reasonable bail or bond conditions pending charge or trial, for all other traffic offenders, shall be fast-tracked.
  • A suspected offender shall be issued with Court Summons or a Notification to Attend Court (NTAC) on a convenient date within seven days. The Notice shall clearly indicate the charges, the court and the time to take plea.
  • The offender must attend court on the date and time indicated in the NTAC to take plea.
  • Before plea is taken, the Magistrate shall ensure that any cash bail collected by the Police from the suspect/accused is availed in Court.
  • The offender must remit to court the maximum amount payable for the offence (s) cited if he or she opts to plead guilty in writing upon issuance of the NTAC.
  • Committal warrant for prison custody will only be issued if the offender is unable to pay the fine/cash bail after reasonable time and facilities.
  • If the offender does not attend court, the cash bail will be forfeited, and a Warrant of Arrest issued.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which individuals are entitled to Right of Way?

On 30th May 2019, Inspector General of Police issued a directive granting special clearance to a select list of VIPs. It has however been argued that this directive is in contravention with Section 119 of the Traffic Act that delegates the exercise of this power to the Cabinet Secretary in-charge of Interior. Under Traffic Rule 83, drivers should give right of way upon hearing sirens indicating the approach of police vehicles, ambulances or fire engines. In addition, under the NTSA Highway Code drivers should give right of way to the presidential motorcade.

What does the law say about search of a motor vehicle by a police officer and under what circumstances can a police officer commandeer my motor vehicle?

Section 105 of the Traffic Act allows any police officer in uniform to stop any vehicle, and to enter any vehicle; to drive any vehicle or cause any vehicle to be driven; on reasonable suspicion of any offence under the Act, to order the owner of any vehicle to bring the vehicle for the purpose of examination with a view to ensure the provisions of this Act are being complied with or if the vehicle is being used in contravention of the Act. Failure to comply attracts a fine not more than KShs. 30,000 and a second conviction a fine not exceeding KShs. 50,000 or imprisonment for one year.

What does the Demerit Points System entail?

The NTSA has introduced new generation Driver’s Licences. The licences come equipped with the Driver’s information and a chip to track demerit points pursuant to the Demerit Points system established under Section 117A of the Traffic Act.

A list of offences and the demerit points imposable are contained in the schedule to the Traffic Act. Subsection 4 states that where the demerit points accumulated by a person total to—

  1. ten or more but less than fourteen, that person shall be disqualified from holding or obtaining a driver's licence for a period of six months;
  2. fourteen or more but less than twenty, that person shall be disqualified from holding or obtaining a driver's licence for a period of one year; and
  3. twenty or more, that person shall be disqualified from holding or obtaining a driver's licence for a period of two years.

Jurisdiction of Police Officers in traffic matters

All officers under the National Police Service have a mandate to enforce the provisions of the Traffic Act. Article 243(2) of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 states that National Police Service consists of: The Kenya Police Service and The Administration Police Service.

The two types of speed offences

1. Offence arising from vehicle class prescribed speed limits

Pursuant to section 42(1) as read with Section 43(1) of the Traffic Act, there are classes of vehicles and also speed limits attaching to them under the Traffic (Speed Limits) Rules, 1975 and therefore any person who contravenes or fails to comply with vehicle class prescribed speed limits shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of not exceeding one hundred thousand shillings.

2. Offence arising from road-sign stipulated speed

Section 70 (5B) of the Traffic provides that if a person who violates a speed limit prescribed on the road-sign by more than 20kph commits an offence and shall be liable, on conviction, to imprisonment for a term of not less than three months, or a fine of not less than Kshs.20,000, or both.

[1] Chapter 403, Laws of Kenya

[2] No. 33 of 2012, Laws of Kenya

[3] No. 11A of 2011, Laws of Kenya

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