Tackling road crashes in Nigeria

In a recent statement, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) indicated that road crashes claimed about 1,441 lives in Nigeria between January and March 2023. According to the Corps Marshal, FRSC, Mr. Dauda Biu, these deaths resulted from 2,733 crashes. About 8,339 people sustained injuries. The most worrisome part, Biu noted, was that more than 89 percent of the crashes were speed-induced.

During the activities to mark the 7th United Nations Global Road Safety Week in Abuja last week, Biu added that over 40,000 people die annually in road accidents in Nigeria. According to him, as many as 1.3 million people die and about 50 million others sustain injuries each year globally. Official statistics from the FRSC further indicate that road accidents claimed 5,053 lives in 2016; 5,121 in 2017; 5,181 in 2018; 5,483 in 2019; 5,574 in 2020 and 6,205 in 2021. This means Nigeria is among the countries with the highest rates of accidents in the world. In a report in 2015, the World Health Organisation (WHO) stated that one in every four road accident deaths in Africa occurred in Nigeria. This is worrisome.   

Apart from over-speeding, which Biu has identified, one other major factor that contributes to road crashes is the state of most vehicles in the country. Some of these vehicles, especially the commercial ones, are not roadworthy. They don’t have good brakes, pointers, mirrors, and bright light for night travel. For some, the tires are either worn out or expired such that they present serious danger to commuters. Despite all these, some of these vehicles still ply our roads in spite of the presence of road marshals and vehicle inspection officers on these roads. Some drivers also park their broken-down articulated vehicles by the roadside without any sign or caution. This has caused many accidents on our roads.

Some drivers also hit the road without a valid driving license. Some obtain the license fraudulently without going through the necessary driving lessons and tests. Hence, they have no idea of some road signs. They break traffic rules, including route violations, speed limits, and some others with impunity.  One way or the other, some road safety officials encourage some of these infractions through their conduct or negligence.

Drunk driving is another problem. Some drivers can’t drive without taking some alcoholic beverages which makes them feel tipsy and sometimes reckless on the road. Road marshals once embarked on enlightenment campaigns against this malady in motor parks across some states of the federation. We are not certain how effective the campaign has been.

Besides, most commercial drivers don’t have enough rest, especially during festive seasons. The ideal thing is that a driver should rest after about four hours of driving. But, in Nigeria, most drivers drive the whole day without any rest. Sometimes, they do return trips on the same day just to maximize profit. Being human, they can easily sleep off on the wheel. It is worse when the roads are very bad or pothole-ridden. This has caused fatal crashes in the country.

Road crashes have robbed Nigeria of some of its valuable human resources. This indirectly affects the development of the country. For some of those who sustain injuries, poverty could be their lot as they may not be physically fit to do any work again.

The FRSC has a lot of work to do to ensure road safety. The corps should be on its feet always. The law on excessive speeding should be enforced. Between January and February last year, the FRSC intercepted 1,291 commercial vehicles for operating without speed-limiting devices in Lagos. The Corps Commander, Lagos command, Mr. Olusegun Ogungbemide, said 80 percent of crashes were as a result of failure to fix the device. The FRSC should be serious in enforcing this law.

There is also the need to subject drivers to periodic tests. Even before any person is given a driving license, he must undergo a series of tests before he gets the license.

Besides, the roads have to be in good shape. It is the job of the government to provide good roads. All the craters on our expressways should be fixed as soon as possible. Let the government provide road signs to guide road users and street lights to provide illumination to night travelers. Vehicles should also be in good condition. Motorists should realize that it is in their best interest to service their vehicles.

The UN global plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030 should be vigorously pursued. The plan is to reduce road crash deaths and injuries by 50 percent by 2030.

Source: The Sun

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