Safety on roads: Need to embrace vehicle inspections.

Let me start this write-up by reminiscing on a personal tragedy my immediate supervisor told me some years back. According to her, she was at a wedding ceremony of a colleague of hers when she got a call that her father had been involved in an accident; he was knocked by a vehicle. That accident marked the beginning of a string of devastating losses her family would encounter before the eventual death of her father ten years later. As sad as this story is, it gets sadder upon the realization that the vehicle that hit her father had defective brakes, and the driver, knowing that all along, chose to be unbothered to get it inspected and repaired. His carelessness robbed the family of their loved ones, and life never remained the same.

In the wake of similar personal tragedies across the world, one cannot help but reflect on the profound impact of road safety on our lives. Countless families have experienced the devastating loss of a loved one due to preventable accidents. Each year, numerous accidents occur due to mechanical failures, worn-out parts, and poor maintenance. These incidents lead to injuries, loss of life, and financial and emotional hardship.

However, amidst the darkness of such heartache, there lies a glimmer of hope that can potentially save lives and protect those we cherish most. Commonly underestimated by undiscerning persons, vehicle inspection, a seemingly routine procedure, emerges as a powerful safeguard against road disasters, ensuring that every vehicle on our highways is roadworthy and equipped to navigate the unpredictable twists of life. Governments and transportation authorities worldwide stress the importance of vehicular safety and urge car owners to take responsibility for their vehicle’s upkeep.

In recent years, vehicle inspection has proven to be a game-changer in the fight against road accidents. It is believed that countries with robust inspection systems have reported up to a remarkable 20% decrease in road accidents, underscoring the life-saving potential of this simple yet crucial process. By identifying and addressing potential mechanical issues, such as faulty brakes, worn-out tires, or malfunctioning lights, vehicle inspections act as a formidable deterrent to road mishaps caused by preventable mechanical failures. Furthermore, the implementation of stringent emissions tests during these inspections has also contributed to cleaner air and a healthier environment, showcasing the multi-faceted benefits of this indispensable safety measure.

Nigeria, like many other countries, has faced significant challenges regarding road safety and traffic accidents. The absence of robust vehicle inspection programs in the past had been a contributing factor to the high rate of road accidents in the country. In the past, the lack of regular inspections allowed many vehicles with mechanical issues to ply the roads, posing serious risks to drivers, passengers, and pedestrians alike.

However, in recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the importance of vehicle inspection in reducing road accidents and improving road safety in Nigeria. Some states in the country have started implementing more stringent vehicle inspection programs, especially with the Computerised Vehicle Inspection Service (CVIS), which is a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV). States such as Anambra, Lagos, Ondo, Delta, Kwara, and 20 more states have subscribed to CVIS to identify and rectify potential mechanical problems in vehicles before they can lead to accidents.

While specific statistics may vary, countries that have adopted comprehensive inspection programs have generally witnessed positive outcomes in reducing road accidents. Given Nigeria’s efforts to improve road safety through vehicle inspections, it is reasonable to expect a potential decrease in accidents and fatalities in the future.

Despite the undeniable benefits of vehicle inspection in reducing accidents and promoting road safety, there remains a prevailing reluctance or indifference among some individuals towards embracing this critical process in Nigeria. This is despite the avalanche of information that currently exists to promote the importance of vehicle inspections and their potential to prevent accidents among many vehicle owners. For example, in Lagos State, the Vehicle Inspection Service driven project – Lagos Computerised Vehicle Inspection Service (LACVIS) – has engaged and is still engaging with the public to disseminate adequate information and public campaigns to enhance their understanding of the tangible benefits of regular inspections.

In the pursuit of vehicle inspection, pricing has always been a major factor in the mix that can determine how well the policy is embraced. In comparison with similar competitive ventures, computerized vehicle inspections in Nigeria are quite conservative. This deals a blow to the argument of some who claim the process is cost-consuming. They further try to balance their arguments with the allegation that inspections may lead to costly repairs. However, for those who have bought this line of thought, they do conveniently forget that avoiding these vehicle inspections potentially spells doom as they put their safety and the safety of others at risk by driving with defective vehicles. When these vehicles eventually break down, they would be confronted with costly repairs far beyond what they anticipated.

Closely related to this is the disturbing trend of some vehicle owners boycotting policies that aim to make vehicle inspection a necessity before the issuance of a Road Worthiness Certificate. To these vehicle owners, aided by unscrupulous agents who manage to convince them to boycott the policy, the momentary gains for the continued bypass of these vehicle inspections will cast doubts on the integrity of the process and in the government that has issued the directive. Unfortunately, the long-term danger remains the fact that lives and properties are being set up for possible destruction.

To this end, there is a need to support increased advocacy for more widespread adoption of vehicle inspection in Nigeria. Government and stakeholders have a pressing need to support increased public awareness campaigns highlighting the advantages of roadworthy vehicles. All hands must be on deck to ensure that policies that place a premium on roadworthy vehicles are supported, especially at inspection centers. By addressing these concerns and instilling a sense of responsibility towards road safety, Nigeria can foster a culture where vehicle inspection is viewed not as a burden but as a vital step towards preserving lives on its roads.
Banjoko is the Head of Media, at Lagos Computerised Vehicle Inspection Service (LACVIS). She wrote from Lagos.

Source: The Guardian

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