Reports on the number of accidents and deaths on Nigerian roads in recent times are depressing.
The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Bauchi Sector Command, has confirmed that no fewer than 414 people have been killed in 480 road accidents in Bauchi State in 2021, according to the annual road traffic crashes (RTC) report for 2021 in the 4000km road network in the state.
A report released by the FRSC sector commander, Bauchi State, Yusuf Abdullahi, stated that within this period the agency recorded 162 fatal accidents and 307 serious accidents, while 2,157 were injured from among the total number of 3,586 people involved in different accidents.
Similarly, the Traffic Compliance and Enforcement Corps in Ogun State said about 228 persons died in various road accidents across the state in 2021.
The corps said 713 vehicles and 118 motorcycles were involved in the accidents. In Niger State and the Federal Capital Territory, no fewer than 445 people died in several road crashes in 2021, with about 3,032 sustaining various degrees of injuries last year.
Addressing journalists, the FRSC zonal commander, FCT, and Niger State, Jonas Agwu, said the two states had a total of 1,263 road crashes in 2021.
The corps’ FCT sector commander, Oga Ochi, disclosed that the command recorded 964 crashes in 2021 while 189 people were killed in accidents in the country’s capital.
Also, in an analysis of accident cases recorded in 2020 and 2021 during the campaign launch at Tashan Kano motor Park in Maiduguri on Sunday, the Borno sector commander, Sanusi Ibrahim, disclosed that the Benisheikh unit of the command alone recorded 23 road traffic accidents, resulting in the death of 55 people between January and October 2021 as against 11 accident cases between the same period under review in the year 2020.
No doubt, the leading cause of road accidents is over-speeding and general negligence of safety and driving rules. Others include some risky practices such as night travels, driving under fatigue, driving under the influence of a substance, over-loading, reckless driving, lane indiscipline, use of rickety vehicles, and wrongful overtaking among others.
The rise of social media and platforms has also been fingered as one of the reasons for deaths on the highways. Many road users have developed the habit of using their mobile phone while driving, either to make and take calls and text messages, or to browse the internet, thereby endangering not only their lives, but those of others. They ignore the advisory that they should either pack at a roadside to use their phones if it is urgent, or to ignore their phones altogether until they get to their destinations.
Unfortunately, road accidents are the second leading cause of violent deaths in Nigeria after killings by Boko Haram, bandits and killer herdsmen.
We recall that the FRSC had disclosed in a report that there are 33.7 deaths per 100,000 people in Nigeria every year, making Nigeria one of the countries with the highest number of road fatalities in Africa.
Zimbabwe is reported to have the worst road fatality in the world with 74.5 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants. The world average is 17.4; Africa
is 26.6 and, according to the International Transport Forum (ITF) Road Safety Annual Report for 2018, the fatality rate for South Africa is 21 while Norway has the least road fatalities with two deaths per 100,000 inhabitants.
The poor state of roads in Nigeria does not help matters. Many vehicular crashes are traceable to them.
As a newspaper, we urge the government at all levels to begin to take this ugly malaise seriously. The nation’s roads should be fixed and maintained regularly. Similarly, using technology for road management should be the focus. We also call for stiff punishment for drink-driving, over-speeding, and other factors that cause carnage on the roads.
Sadly, most traffic officials are more concerned about arresting road users for vehicle papers or licence plate offenses instead of maintaining sanity on the roads. They have turned themselves into a revenue-generating agency and abandoned their statutory duties – which is to improve safety for commuters and other road users. We also urge the government to set standards for officials as regards traffic rules and install cameras on our roads, as well as emergency units.
Also, the manner of licensing drivers needs urgent review. A lot of the persons driving on Nigerian roads know nothing, and care little, about road traffic rules. As a result, they pose danger to themselves and other road users. Those who want to drive must be made to go through rigorous formal tutelage before they are certified. The era of people just paying a certain fee to obtain the driver’s licence should stop henceforth.
Finally, the road safety management body, the FRSC, should do more on public enlightenment to continually sensitise road users about the dangers they pose to themselves, their loved ones and others by their negligence and recklessness.