I am pained as I write. In the words of my people from the other side, ‘’another person’s dead body, be like firewood’’. Sadly, now the dead body is not another man’s, but ours. I am talking about the death of a dear colleague and senior; a distinguished member of the National Institute as well as a celebrated army officer whose death, like a handful of other deaths shocks me.
It was not a death at a battle field in any part of our country. It wasn’t as a result of a confrontation with bandits, or terrorists. The report says he was walking home. I do not know if it was a walking exercise or a casual walk; but it says he was walking home. Not at a sports arena but within the barracks. So he wasn’t hit by a civilian okada man or taxi driver.
He was hit by a soldier who was said to be drunk right there at the barracks. I am just too heavy in my heart to ask questions. I leave that at the door steps of the authorities to unravel how we lost a gem. His death reminds me of a similar death; this time of a young, beautiful and enterprising medical doctor killed in Abuja a couple of months ago. I heard she was waiting for a taxi when a driver hit and killed her on the spot.
I heard the driver never stopped to assist and keep her alive. He zoomed off and left her in a pool of her blood. She bled so much that she gave up at the scene leaving parents and loved ones heartbroken and traumatised. These are just few cases that space will permit me to capture. There are other uncelebrated cases recorded daily across our roads. That is why I am relieving my archives.
This piece is not a new piece although I have tried to refresh it a bit. It is a piece I wrote about two years ago when I raised my concern over the increasing cases of deaths and injuries involving pedestrians especially joggers as a result of apathy, ignorance, deliberate ignorance or just attitude. I followed up the write up with another piece which equally shed light on the roles and responsibilities of drivers in ensuring the deaths and injury trend is reduced in line with the Federal Road Safety Corps Corporate goals of reducing road traffic crash fatalities by 15percent in 2022.
While the first piece was titled; Pedestrian Safety; Rules for joggers, the second was titled; Driver and Pedestrian Safety. I must confess that despite all that I wrote in the above, I am still disturbed by the disturbing trend which is not changing by the day. This is why I am compelled to write again because of the death scare ahead of the December rush. For starters, I wish to inform you that in June 2022, I moved to a new estate in Abuja and just recently moved into another estate. The estate boasts of tarred and expansive roads but like the case in some of our roads or estates, the appropriate road furniture such as road markings or walkways are absent.
This absence naturally tasks me while jogging in ensuring that all precautions are taken to avoid exposure to a possible pedestrian-vehicle collision. Like I wrote earlier, my daily routine to keep fit is a thirty to one hour walking and jogging exercise. Every time I embark on this daily exercise, I stumble on some oddities by fellow joggers who by their mien are literate but ignorant of the risk pedestrians’ face. I am therefore writing because increasing pedestrian safety will reduce road traffic fatalities and thus help us in achieving our strategic goals of reducing road traffic crashes and fatalities.
Like I said earlier, Pedestrian injuries and fatalities is a major global problem related to travel and road safety. In Nigeria, it is a major road safety issue especially with the absence of appropriate infrastructures such as walkways and pedestrian bridges except in few cities, including Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory where through the partnership with the World bank, pedestrian bridges have been provided even though there is still the apathy by pedestrians to utilize them, thus causing unnecessary crashes and deaths.
Even developed societies have their fair share of this challenge where Pedestrian-vehicle crashes are a major problem. The times and days pedestrians are most at risk of injury differ from those when they are most at risk of death. Pedestrian vehicle crashes knows no bounds as they occur both in urban and rural areas and in both places where there are no traffic controls and where there exist. They affect both adults and children.
No single factor is completely responsible for the problem of pedestrian-vehicle crashes resulting in injuries and fatalities. A combination of unsafe pedestrian behaviour, vehicle and driver factors, problematic physical environments and other special conditions all contribute to them. Pedestrian-vehicle crashes occur when physical environments allow pedestrians to come into contact with moving vehicles.
These crashes occur when physical environments allow pedestrians to come into contact with moving vehicles like the case in my new estate. If this occurs without check, then a pedestrian-vehicle crash problem exists. Most, if not all of such problems will be the result of failures of the following: pedestrians who are inattentive or incapable of using the road safely; irresponsible drivers and physical environments that encourage unsafe pedestrian and/or driver behavior, or failure to adequately separate pedestrians and vehicles.
Addressing these problems will provide relief, promote safety for pedestrians and reduce if not eliminate these crashes Unsafe pedestrian behaviour is a major factor in pedestrian injuries and fatalities whether in low or high income countries. Most studies done on pedestrian vehicle crashes heaps about 80percent of the blame on pedestrians and this explains my emphasis on increasing pedestrian safety consciousness.
I told you that I am very worried at the development I have noticed since I moved to this new environment. Within this period, I must have stumbled on hundreds of joggers who choose the early hours between 5-7am to jog. This period has a very peculiar challenge which is that of visibility. Strangely I must confess that in six months, less than five percent of joggers in this estate have attempted to demonstrate understanding the principle number one for joggers which demands that they ensure that they are visible by wearing dresses that either reflects or better still bright colored dresses.
Of this five percent, only two people were seen jogging with a reflective jacket and an arm band to enhance visibility. Afairly good number attempt to wear bright colors although they don’t reflect’ Also recently, I noticed the growing number of younger or kid joggers who mostly jog in the company of parents or guardians.
While it might be okay to excuse the level of ignorance exhibited by most adults, I however shudder when I see a parent walking or jogging and exhibiting gross ignorance or deliberate disobedience to safety rules that will protect himself and members of his family especially children whom the scripture describes as Gods heritage.
It is equally worrisome to see this younger joggers who most often are supposed to be more learned, courtesy of the numerous safety awareness campaign embarked by the Commission to schools as part of the catch them young strategy, exhibit same folly especially that of walking or jogging on the street along with the traffic flow, thereby ignoring designated pedestrian pathways where such exist or complying with rule number two rule which demands pedestrians to avoid backing traffic when walking or jogging.