Anthony Muthungu, a second-year Physics and Mathematics student at Karatina University, says the device will alert motorists whenever they approach blackspots from as far as 500 metres.
The device also signals the drivers after they exit such notorious sections.
“This means that the motorist will be aware they are approaching dangerous a zone, and they will therefore reduce the speed to avoid accidents,” said Mr Muthungu.
Christened LUAM Blackspot Tracer, the gadget is a hybrid of two electronic devices, which are configured through a software that he invented. Muthungu uses an ordinary television remote control as one of the gadgets that will be fixed at black spots.
“The remote control is upgraded through the software such that it sends a signal which is then captured by the signal module receiver fitted in a vehicle. The receiver encodes the signal and transfers it to an LCD fitted in the dash board, which warns the driver that they are in an accident-prone area,” said Muthungu.
When in “safer” road sections, the LCD light dims, but while in a black spot zone, the LCD produces bright fast-blinking flashes of light and an alarm immediately goes off. Inevitably, Muthungu will have to feed his gadgets with details about all blackspot areas on Kenyan roads.
Road safety campaigners recently mapped out over 160 accident blackspots in the country.
“The everyday tragic news of people dying in accidents are horrifying. I went through statistics provided by the National Transport and Safety Authority about accidents occurring in our roads and I thought I can come up with this device that will be alerting the drivers, especially in new road sections, on the dangers they may face,” said Muthungu.
After he got the brainwave, Muthungu approached his lecturer, Stephen Kinyua, with his idea and they both researched on how to make the project a success.
Mr Kinyua, a physics assistant lecturer at the university who has been in the teaching profession for 17 years, said Muthungu took research on the device seriously and worked on it until he came up with the final device.
“We want to package it into a small pack so that installing it in motor vehicles will not be a hectic job. We have used motherboards, bread boards, cables, bulbs and an LCD screen,” said Kinyua.
The lecturer said the gadget has reached patenting level to ensure Muthungu reserves all ownership rights. He said Muthungu also invented a remote electric switch, where one can light their houses from a distance.
“It is this remote electric switch that we further developed to come up with the black-spot tracer, since they both use almost the same technology,” Kinyua said.
He revealed that the student is planning to take his invention a step further by making the gadget to immediately start inflating rubber balloons installed in the front part of the vehicle once the vehicle arrives at a blackspot.
The balloons will help to reduce the crash impact and extent of injury to those inside the vehicle in case of a collision with another vehicle.
Kinyua said Kenya has a lot of potential in technology, adding that institutions should strive to empower the youth to develop their ideas and come up with new technologies.
“The students feel frustrated by the job market since employers ask for experience which they do not have. I always advise my students to attach themselves somewhere they will be busy so as to expand the knowledge they have before they can be formally employed,” said Kinyua.
He noted that Chinese technologies have flooded Kenya, some which engineering and electrical students in universities can be able to develop and boost local industries and economy.
“I hail the Government for awarding the laptop assembly tender to local universities. This will boost their morale and knowledge in their fields of learning as well as benefit their institutions financially,” he said.
Last year, the World Health Organisation listed Kenya among African countries with the highest motor vehicle accident fatalities.
The report ranked Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda with 29.1, 32.9 and 32.1 deaths per 100,000 people respectively, among the worst 10 performers in terms of fatalities in Africa and the worst 20 worldwide. Uganda’s rate is slightly better at 27.4.
The report dubbed WHO Global Status Report on Road Safety indicates that between 3,000 and 13,000 Kenyans lose their lives in road crashes every year.
Majority of the victims are vulnerable road users comprising pedestrians, motorcyclists and cyclists.
In addition, nearly one third of deaths are among passengers, many of whom are killed in unsafe forms of public transportation, and mostly in road sections marked as black spots across the country.