Stakeholders in road safety are always concerned about the record of the United Nations (UN) on road accidents in which than one million persons die annually across the world.
The world is worried about this number so much so that the UN made a declaration of World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims to be observed every third Sunday of November.
Willing to reduce the rate of accidents in the country, Nigeria has not only been sensitive to the observance of the day but making frantic efforts to reduce road accidents.
In festive seasons such as Eid el-Kabir, Christmas, New Year and in some cases, weekends, among other periods, road safety personnel have made it a duty to call on motorists, road users and other stakeholders, to take precautionary measures and prevent accidents.
Malam Idris Yahaya, the Head of Public Enlightenment, Zaria Unit Command, the Federal Road Safety Corps, observes that: “Safe driving is critical to safe arrival’’ when necessary precautions are taken.
According to him, accidents are caused either by the driver or the passenger while motorists and passengers’ attitude towards traffic rules and regulations is significant to safe arrival.
Yahaya warns motorists against the use of drugs, alcoholic substances or any substance that can influence actions before driving or while driving.
Corps Marshal Boboye Oyeyemi observes that it has been estimated that someone is killed or injured on the world’s road in every six seconds.
He says road accidents are leading cause of death globally for children and young people between 10 years and 24 years of age.
“There ought to be more attention to the effects of road traffic crashes, families, individuals and government should take decisive actions against the menace so that there would be common solutions to reducing the carnage,’’ he said.
In his view, road traffic and related activities demanded the highest mental alertness and concentration.
“This is so, particularly as it is a known fact that human error causes more than 75 per cent of road traffic crashes worldwide,’’ he said.
The Public Enlightenment Department of the FRSC also identifies offences in road safety management to include reckless driving, use of cell phones while driving, overloading, speeding and non-installation of speed limit device on vehicles.
“The essence of speed limiting device is just to regulate the speed of your vehicle; if your vehicle’s total speed is 140km per hour or 180km per hour, you are expected to not go beyond 100km per hour.
“There are some vehicles that are expected to move just 80km per hour; we are working hard to reduce the rate of accident in Nigeria to 25 per cent and to reduce severity of injury to 15 per cent.
“We cannot achieve success in all these without your full cooperation, hence the need for you to comply and cooperate with the road safety personnel,’’ he pleaded.
This plea, notwithstanding, Malam Lawal Dan-Small, the Chairman, National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) Flyover, solicits collaboration among the union members, FRSC personnel and road marshals in ensuring highway safety.
But Mr Sydney Ibeanusi, National Focal Person, UN-Decade of Action on Road Safety and Injury Prevention in Nigeria, observes that more than 50 million persons globally are injured with some partly disabled.
He expresses concern about the figure and calls on the stakeholders to take measures aimed at reducing accidents on Nigerian roads.
“There is gross neglect of action by various agencies of government, organised private sector, civil society organisations and more importantly, by majority of road users resulting huge number of deaths and injuries on the roads.
“Whereas government agencies and global agencies spend up to 15 dollars to treat or prevent one case of diarrhoea, 45 dollars to treat one case of tuberculosis, only four per cent is invested to treat or prevent trauma including road traffic crash.
“Yet, if you sum the number of persons that die from trauma every year it out numbers the number of persons that die from malaria, tuberculosis and HIV combined.
“There should be reversal of that trend; this level of neglect is unjustifiable,’’ Ibeanusi says.
According to him, the intervention by UN-Decade of Action on Road Safety and Injury Prevention in Nigeria has, nonetheless, brought some reduction in the road accident-related deaths.
“It is important for government, civil society organisations, all and sundry to prevent road traffic crashes by whatever means,’’ he warns.
Dr Osagie Ehanire, Minister of State for Health also believes that road accident remains a global menace that claims many lives.
According to him, the global statistics of victims of road accidents indicates that there could be a failure in achieving the set target of 50 per cent reduction in road accidents and fatalities by 2020.
He calls for concerted efforts aimed at reversing the trend and advises road users to observe road safety rules and regulations.
“Prevention is not only better than cure, but prevention is cheaper than cure, prevention remains the most pragmatic and most affordable approach to reducing road crashes,’’ he says.
He announces that the Federal Ministry of Health has inaugurated the National Emergency Medical Service and the Ambulance Scheme to coordinate all the medical emergencies and ambulance services in the country.
Similarly, Mr Boss Mustapha, Secretary to Government of the Federation, says in a bid to ensure better motoring environment in the country, the Federal Government has inaugurated Inter-Ministerial Stakeholders’ Committee on safety haulage and other related vehicles.
“The measure is to enhance more efficient and safer conduct of haulage transportation business in the country.
“Haulage entails the use of articulated vehicles, including tankers, trailers and cranes in transporting goods across the country, carrying large quantity at a time,’’ he explains.
All in all, road safety officers observe that although road accidents occur daily on Nigerian highways, there are precautions to check the rate and reduce the risk.
They advise motorists to always keep eyes on the road, never use cell phone while driving, stay non-distracted, never drink and drive, avoid construction areas, follow the rules of the road, adhere to speed limits and ignore aggressive drivers, among other precautions.
According to them, there are also some warning signs to be taken seriously such as unusual noise when applying the brake, suggesting there is something wrong with your brakes, maybe shortage of brake fluid or worn-out brake pads.(NAN)