Kenya’s National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) has unveiled plans for a sweeping overhaul of the country's driving licence system, with a proposal mandating all drivers to transition to smart licences within the next three years.

Outlined in the newly released National Road Safety Action Plan 2024-2028, the initiative aims to phase out outdated driving licences and implement a modernized framework incorporating demerit points, a system widely employed in Western countries to regulate driver behaviour.

Under the proposed regulations, each driver's smart card will be allocated 20 demerit points, which will be gradually deducted in proportion to the severity of traffic violations committed. The NTSA emphasized the significance of this transition, asserting, "This is critical to the integrity of road safety in the future."

Smart licences will be equipped with software enabling instant fines for minor infractions such as using a phone while driving or exceeding speed limits.

These fines, ranging from Sh500 to Sh10,000, aim to discourage reckless driving behaviour and promote adherence to traffic regulations.

In addition to penalties, repeat offenders risk permanent licence revocation, temporary suspension, spot fines, or mandatory attendance at refresher courses.

For certain violations like overlapping, drivers will incur both fines and demerit point deductions.

While the implementation of demerit points and instant fines seeks to enhance road safety, the NTSA assures that due process will be followed, with fines remaining inactive until adjudicated in court.

Furthermore, the NTSA plans to collaborate with insurance companies to identify and penalize high-risk drivers, potentially leading to increased insurance premiums for offenders.

With an estimated 5 million registered drivers set to migrate to the digital platform, the NTSA underscores the importance of public feedback, inviting Kenyans to participate in the ongoing public consultation until May 10, 2024.

The proposed reforms extend beyond licensing, encompassing measures to regulate driving schools and instructors.

By enforcing standards and leveraging online processes for theory tests, the NTSA aims to enhance driver training and weed out non-compliance within the industry.

"Standards will also be enforced by strengthening the online processes administered by NTSA to run the necessary theory tests," the authority emphasised.

As Kenya charts a course towards safer roads and more responsible driving, the proposed transition to smart licences represents a significant step in modernizing the country's transportation infrastructure while fostering a culture of road safety awareness.