Why are there so few car accidents on the German autobahn(highways without speed limit)?
I once asked this question of a kenyan civil engineer I knew who had worked on government civil engineering projects after studying in Europe. Her answer was enlightening:
In Germany, if the authorities notice a significant number of accidents on a certain portion of roadway, they call in an engineer to fix the problem. They redesign the curve, they re-grade the road, whatever it takes.
In Kenya, if the authorities notice a significant number of accidents on a certain portion of roadway, they double the number of traffic cops and NTSA dragnets on that portion of the road, and it becomes a new steady source of revenue for the cops.
That answer is a bit crude, of course, but there is a kernel of truth to it: Kenyans and Germans have different attitudes. That includes different attitudes about driving, but it also includes different attitudes about design and engineering. Kenya has a culture of the rugged colonial individualist: we make the road however we make it, and as the driver it’s your responsibility to drive safely. It’s all your fault if there’s a crash. Germany has a culture that it is the responsibility of the engineer to think carefully about the project, anticipate how things can go wrong, and create a design that is logical, consistent, and makes sense in everyday use.
Not to say that speed doesn’t kill or rabies –stricken drivers shouldn’t answer to their recklessness; the logic is we should work in concerto every one dutifully executing their responsibility.