The authorities could do more to halt the epidemic of death by driving
The high rate of road accidents in our country is frightening and demands prompt intervention for the safety of road users by the regulatory authorities. In every four hours, no fewer than two lives are lost on Nigerian roads and every year, about 20,000 of the 11.654 million vehicles in the country are involved in accidents. This makes Nigeria one of the countries with very high road fatalities in the world. To worsen matters, according to figures from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) no fewer than 1,538 Nigerians died in road accidents in the fourth quarter of 2018.
The statistics of death which the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) alluded to in a recent report are indeed disturbing. It demands more must be done to reduce the human and material waste on our roads. The NBS indicated that 92 per cent (1,422) of the 1,538 people that died were adults, while the remaining eight per cent (116 people) were children. The NBS also noted that 74 per cent (6,194) of peoples that got injured in the quarter under review were males, while 26 per cent (2,212) were females. Perhaps more noteworthy is that majority of these victims were people in the prime of their productive years and who ordinarily represent the future of the country.
From the report, speed violation, dangerous driving and wrongful overtaking are the major causes of accidents on our roads. Failure by drivers to limit their speed accounted for 52 per cent of the total road fatalities reported, while dangerous driving and wrongful overtaking both accounted for nine per cent and eight per cent of the total road accidents respectively.
Travelling on Nigeria’s road can be risky and arduous. The country has an estimated road network of approximately 200,183 kilometres. Sadly, large swathes of the tracks are dilapidated and ridden with potholes due to poor maintenance culture formed over the years. To curb rising carnage on our roads, critical stakeholders in the transport sector, particularly tanker drivers, must be held accountable for their reckless driving. Much as we appreciate the primacy of the long vehicle drivers in the product distribution chain, we plead that they should render their services carefully and within the ambit of the traffic rules and regulations in order not to endanger the lives of innocent citizens.
The indiscriminate action of some of these drivers that put others at risk is informed by arbitrary consumption of alcohol and other intoxicants. Coupled with the parlous state of many of our roads and preference for night driving, when vision is impaired, the risk of road accident is elevated and does not require clairvoyance to guess when it will happen. The FRSC should be proactive and ensure drivers comply with speed limit and always put their vehicles in good conditions. They should also curb offences such as light violation, use of phones while driving and route violation.
Emphasis must also be placed on drivers having thorough knowledge of highway codes and ensuing that their plate numbers conform to the corps’ licensing scheme that will be captured in the central database of the FRSC. The Vehicle Inspection Offices (VIOs) in the states and the Police traffic departments should also enforce the law and get people to abide by it without compromise. And finally the onus is on government to fulfil its constitutional duty by fixing decrepit network of roads used to transport goods and people across the country.
The collapse of our roads is an indictment on local, state and federal governments for failing to uphold their electoral promises to the public. They need to do more to end the carnage on our roads.