Last week the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) released a very worrying report on the number of deaths recorded from road crashes across the country. The report which was released in Abuja stated that a number of 1,331 Nigerians died in road crashes in just three months.
The report said 1,257 of the 1,331 Nigerians that died were adults while the remaining 74 persons were children. It further stated that 8,437 Nigerians got injured in road crashes within the period.
The report said, “6,415 male Nigerians, representing 76 per cent, got injured in road crashes in the second quarter just as 2,022 female Nigerians, representing 24 per cent, were injured.”
It is disheartening to note that despite all the talk about safety on roads, we are still recording this huge loss on the roads. Losing 1,331 Nigerians through road crashes in a spate of three months is indeed a source of concern. We sympathise with families of victims and also those who were injured just as we wish them quick recovery.
There is a need for the issue of safety on the roads to be taken more seriously. We commend the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) for its efforts on the roads but we urge them to do more. They cannot afford to rest on their oars until accidents on the roads are reduced to the barest minimum. The FRSC should engage in massive campaigns to educate drivers and other road users on how to behave on the roads. Bill boards and sign posts should be placed along the roads, especially on bad portions of the roads and on those that are either under construction or undergoing rehabilitation to serve as warning to motorists.
Furthermore, instead of city centers, there should be more presence of the FRSC personnel on highways, where their attention is needed. The corps should also come up with stringent punitive measures for traffic offenders. Asking people who have violated traffic laws to pay fines is not enough. People should be made to pay dearly for their offences to serve as deterrent to others. The Vehicle Inspections Officers have to be up and doing. They must ensure that only vehicles that are certified worthy are on the roads. Some of the accidents were caused by tyre burst. The officers should check for expired tyres and impound any car that is found to be using such and they should not release the cars until owners produce new tyres.
Another major problem is the state of our roads. Many roads across the country are in terrible condition and they are worse now because of the rains. We, therefore, call on the federal and state governments to step in and put the roads in good condition. Some roads are death traps and that should not be the case. It is not proper for a nation to continue to lose its citizens to avoidable causes. Efforts should be made to rehabilitate all bad roads across the country. It should be a priority of the government.
All said and done, the government alone cannot tackle the problem. We all have to key into the project of ensuring safety on roads. The attitudes of many motorists’ leave much to be desired. The report noted over speeding as one of the causes of accidents and some drivers still engage in this very dangerous habit. It is true that many roads are bad but if the drivers are a bit careful, the level of crashes wouldn’t be so high. Also there is the case of under-age driving. Parents and guardians must understand that it is irresponsible of them to give out vehicles to minors who are too young and ill prepared for the task of driving. They are not only a danger to themselves but to many others. They should therefore desist from such. Driving under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs should be avoided. Only trained and mentally stable persons should be behind the wheels. The onus of keeping our roads safe rests on all of us.