By JACINTHA NWACHUKWU
Although transportation has liberated man from static ways of life, making him more mobile, his increasing reliance on road transportation, in particular, has facilitated the expansion of the scope of his activities.
In spite of the myriad advantages of road transportation as the commonest and most extensively used form of transportation, the spate of road traffic accidents, the world over, has remained a source of concern to many observers.
Without doubt, road traffic accidents have been the focus of great international concern, as accidents on the roads are the major cause of deaths all over the world.
Concerned observers note that the Nigerian situation appears dire, saying that it has reached an alarming proportion, even to the point of frustration and near helplessness.
This, according to them, is because Nigeria continues to feature in the list of countries that are mostly affected by road accidents.
For instance, the former Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, in 2012 quoted a report of the World Health Organisation (WHO) as indicating that Nigeria had the second highest road traffic accident fatalities among 193 countries under the study’s focus.
Chukwu said that Nigeria recorded 162 deaths per 100,000 road traffic accidents, adding that the trend was adversely affecting the country’s health system.
Sharing similar sentiments, the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), which also cited the same WHO report, said that in terms of deaths caused by road accidents, Nigeria was the second worst country in the world.
The commission noted that the report indicated that road accidents now accounted for more deaths than malaria and tuberculosis.
Observers, however, say that reckless driving, wrong overtaking, excessive speeding and overloading of vehicles are some of the major causes of road accidents in the country.
They also note that some motorists engage in drunk driving or use of hard drugs, adding most Nigerian drivers are also guilty of always being in a hurry.
However, Mrs Susan Ajenge, the FRSC Sector Commander in the FCT, said that the commission had initiated some measures to address the menace, adding that the FCT Command of the FRSC had taken steps to enforce the extant ban on the sale of alcohol at motor parks.
She said that the command was already working with transport unions at the parks and the police, in efforts to ensure the relocation of liquor sellers from motor parks so as to promote safety on the highways.
Ajenge blamed most of the road traffic accidents in the country to drunkenness and recklessness on the part of motorists.
Observers commend the FRSC for its efforts to promote road safety and restore sanity on the nation’s roads.
They note that the FRSC have arraigned many motorists before mobile courts for possession of fake driver’s licence, number plates and hard drugs, among other offences.
Dr Akin Adana, a health information management consultant, noted that many motorists across the country did not obey traffic rules and regulations, saying that motorists should adopt the best road traffic practices as part of efforts to promote road safety and prevent road crashes.
He also underscored the need for motorists to abide by the recommended speed limits for various categories of vehicles, while plying the highways.
“Not everyone on the road gets to his or her destination alive; some lost their lives before their time because of sheer impatience,” he said.
The menace of road accidents in the country has become so worrisome to such an extent that the FRSC has concluded plans to put in place a robust strategy, aimed at reducing road crashes as the year comes to an end.
The Corps Marshal of FRSC, Mr Boboye Oyeyemi, said that the strategy included the deployment of patrol vehicles along strategic road corridors and the use of speed detection devices such as radar guns to monitor motorists’ speed on the highways.
“ Our aim with this robust strategy is to make the roads safer for all road users and ensure a reduction in road crashes as we begin our end-of-year patrol operations,’’ he said.
Oyeyemi advised motorists to avoid drunk driving, excessive speeding and vehicles’ overloading, insisting that such factors accounted for most of the fatal accidents that occurred on the highways, particularly during the Yuletide period.
Oyeyemi also urged the motorists to ensure the roadworthiness of their vehicles before embarking on journeys.
He, nonetheless, vowed that the FRSC patrol teams would not hesitate to arrest and sanction any motorist who violated traffic rules, adding that the commission was working hard to ensure a smooth flow of traffic on the roads.
The corps marshal, however, encouraged motorists to renew their driver’s licences, whenever they expired, and obtain new number plates.
As part efforts to create more awareness on road safety, the FRSC has initiated a campaign, involving some schools and members of the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC).
The corps members have been collaborating with the FRSC in dissuading motorists from making phone calls while driving or engaging in drunk driving.
“Use your seatbelt’’, “Okada man, use your helmet’’, “Ear piece is a distraction to you’’ are some of the warnings they usually give to motorists on the roads.
Explaining the rationale behind the campaign, the FRSC Sector Commander in Anambra, Mr Sunday Ajayi, said: “Road safety is a collective responsibility”.
He lamented that many children had lost their parents because of little things done wrongly on the highways.
“We either use our phones while driving or refuse to fasten our seatbelt; we also engage in excessive speeding or fail to maintain our vehicles.
“We should be aware that majority of the people who die in road traffic accidents fall within the 16 to 45 age bracket, which is the productive age.
“Also, when they die, a lot of calamities and sufferings befall their families, children and everyone around them,” he said.
Ajayi, therefore, appealed to the public to be serious-minded in efforts to promote safety on the roads, saying: “Driving is a complex matter that must be handled with care.’’
Meawhile, the FRSC has reiterated its plans to enforce the compulsory use of speed limit devices by commercial vehicles, come June 1, 2015.
Corps Marshal Oyeyemi said that the enforcement had become imperative in view of the increasing rate of road traffic crashes caused by speed limit violations by motorists across the country.
Oyeyemi, who bemoaned the recklessness of some drivers on the highway, said that speed limit violations accounted for 39 per cent of road crashes in the country between January and August 2014.
“This development informed the decision of the Stakeholders’ Forum, convened by the FRSC, to embark on aggressive public enlightenment campaigns,’’ he said.
The FRSC boss stressed that the speed limit devices would help to control the maximum speed of commercial vehicles, while serving as a powerful tool for speed management.
“Active speed limiters directly control speed by applying counterforce on the accelerator or through the engine fuel injection system,’’ he said.
All the same, observers appeal to drivers to be more careful, particularly during the festive periods when the volume of traffic on the roads is usually high.
They also urge the drivers to consider other road users, insisting that there is no justifiable reason to claim undue rights on the road while driving.
Reducing Incidence Of Road Accident
By JACINTHA NWACHUKWU