Despite enlightenment campaigns by road traffic officers, there has been an increase in road traffic fatalities. With the carnage on Nigerian roads, it will not be out of place for the government to declare a state of emergency on the poor state of the roads.
Most Nigerians were not surprised when the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) announced, recently, that its data shows that 3,700 persons lost their lives in vehicle accidents in 10 months, between January and October, 2022.
The number, in the opinion of this newspaper, ,is alarming and deserves efforts to bring it under manageable limits.
Road traffic crashes have negative impact on all the sectors of the economy, particularly the attendant loss of lives and damage to properties that come with them. These are human beings, not just numbers representing inanimate objects.
The National Bureau of Statistics report also shows that no fewer than 6,205 persons died in road accidents in 2021. The NBS in its Road Transport Data reports stated that on a quarterly basis, road accidents killed a total of 1,668 people in Q1 2021; 1,453 persons in Q2; 1,432 persons in Q3; and 1,652 people in Q4. The report also revealed that a total of 13,027 road crashes occurred during the year.
In its half-year report, the Bureau said that 3,301 road accident cases were recorded in Q1, representing a 0.36 per cent decline from the 3,313 cases recorded in the previous quarter, while 3,185 cases were documented in Q2, showing a 3.51 per cent decrease quarter-on-quarter.
The NBS added that the observed decline showed improvement in road safety during the first six months of 2021. For Q3 2021, the NBS said the total road crashes recorded was 3,134, indicating a decrease of 1.60 per cent from the 3,185 recorded in Q2. The number of road crashes rose by 8.71 per cent in Q4 2021 when 3,407 cases were recorded.
Disaggregating crashes into categories shows that serious cases of road crashes in Q3 2021 were higher with 2,008 compared to fatal and minor cases with 723 and 403, respectively. Similarly, serious cases stood at 2,199 in Q4 2021 compared to fatal with 888 and minor with 320,” the report read.
The data also indicated that road traffic crashes are the single biggest killer of the young and productive population of the country. The effects of these losses cannot be adequately quantified.
Several families will always remember the roads for the lives they have taken from them due to several systemic failures of the government and transporters in ensuring safety on the roads.
A number of factors are responsible for road traffic crashes in Nigeria. They include speed violation, light/sign violation, wrongful overtaking, dangerous driving and tyre bursting, brake failure, route violation and bad roads.
The outright disregard for traffic rules is also a major cause of road crashes. Most motorists use their phones while driving, as well as driving beyond the designated speed limits. An average Nigerian driver is aggressive and impatient.
The FRSC recently assured Nigerians that it would be steadfast in its commitment to duty to ensure absolute sanity on the highways. With this commitment, we expect the FRSC to walk the talk by launching a thorough investigation into causes of crashes as a springboard for effectively formulating and implementing policies to prevent road crashes.
The Corps should also ensure criminal prosecution where appropriate compensation is given to victims and their relations. This justice system, among others, will go a long way to deter road traffic violators and bring succour to road crash victims and their families whom the recklessness of these traffic violators has kept in pitiable and sorrowful living conditions.
The Corps should focus more on compliance with traffic rules and regulations for a safer motoring environment than generating revenue. It should takeinto consideration the five pillars of road safety, which are road safety management; safer road and mobility; safer vehicles; safer road users; and post-crash response. These goals must be achieved for a safer Nigeria!
The Nigerian government can also learn and adopt the examples seen in other developed countries especially Sweden, which has remained the best-performing country in terms of road safety with an annual road fatality of 16.
We are told, Sweden was able to achieve this remarkable reduction in crashes owing to the country’s commitment and priority through the establishment of the vision zero road safety policy. Nothing stop the Nigerian from adopting this policy.