Presented By:


ON 15TH MAY, 2014

Assumptions: Safety on Nigeria roads is less than adequate. Skills, attitudes and behaviours are critical elements to safe driving. These key elements are lacking or less than acceptable threshold for a safe driving environment. There is need to apply these elements in the Nigeria road content.


Driving is a complex-processing task and one of the most challenging routine activities; a driver’s ability to respond to traffic situation appropriately depends on how information is processed at the perception, decision and reaction phases. These phases happen sequentially and dependent on the driver’s visual, cognitive and physical abilities.
Road traffic crashes is increasingly recognized as growing public health problem and major concern; statistics have shown that crash is higher in low and medium income countries where 50% of world vehicle resides, still increasing. If nothing is done to arrest this trend, road transportation would become a threat instead of a tool to achieve and spread economic growth.

Posted by: Foluso on January 5, 2013 …”The Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, recorded 280 deaths from 480 road accidents between December 19, 2012 and January 3, the Corps Marshal, Osita Chidoka said”.

Human performance errors are the most common cause of motor vehicle crashes, this includes driver’s ability to perceive a hazard, decide what to do about it, and execute a response.

A study evaluated 2258 crashes and found that human, environmental, and vehicle factors were the probable causes in 93%, 34%, and 13% of crashes, respectively. (The percentages add up to more than 100 because more than 1 factor frequently contributed to 1 crash). Human factors alone were probable causes in 57% of the crashes.
Further analysis of human error indicated that recognition errors (problems in perception and comprehension) and decision errors were most frequently implicated. Performance errors – manoeuvring skills (poorly executing an action that was correctly decided as appropriate) were less frequently implicated.

Recognition errors were probable causes in 56% of the crashes, decision errors in 52% of the crashes, and performance errors in 11% of the crashes.

Therefore, to pursue safe driving which is absence of harm on the road; we shall consider elements that form the bedrock of safe driving.


Vision ability – Perceptual skill

Ninety percent of the information receives for driving is visual, therefore; visual acuity of the driver must be high and sound.

Table 1:

Visual Factors Important to Driving.

Visual Factor Definition Related Driving Tasks.

Accommodation Change in the shape of the lens of the eye to bring images into focus.

Changing one’s focus from the dashboard/instrument panel to the roadway; poor accommodation results in a blurry image
Static visual acuity Ability to see small details clearly Reading traffic signs and street signs in the distance.

Adaptation Change in sensitivity to different levels of light Adjusting to changes in light when entering a tunnel.

Angular movement Seeing objects moving across the field of view Judging the speed of cars crossing our path of travel.

Movement in depth Detecting changes in visual image size Judging the speed of approaching vehicles.

Color perception Discrimination of different colors Identifying the color of traffic signals
Contrast sensitivity Seeing objects that are similar in brightness to their background Detection of curbs and hazards and pedestrians at night who are wearing dark Clothing
Depth perception Judgment of the distance of objects Passing on two-lane roads with oncoming traffic.

Dynamic visual acuity Ability to see objects in motion that are relative to an observer Reading traffic signs while moving.

Eye movement Changing the direction of gaze Scanning the road environment for hazards.

Glare sensitivity Ability to resist and recover from the effects of glare Reduction in visual performance due to headlight glare.

Peripheral vision Detection of objects at the side of the visual field Seeing a bicycle approaching on an intersecting path.

The visual deficiency of any in a driver could be associated with age or/and an induced impairment (medication, alcohol, sleep disorder).

Cognition – Cognitive skill

Driver integrates various information inputs and maintains an awareness of the changing environment through an attention-sharing process; they make some decisions immediately and delay others, rely on judgement, estimation and prediction to fill gaps. Cognitive skills require to drive safely is applied in an integrated fashion involving reasoning and decision making and/or judgement; ability to discover rules or make inferences from experience and choosing among range of alternatives which also involves reasoning.

The essential contributions of cognitive processes to safe driving are summarized in Table below.

Table 2

Cognitive Factor Definition Related Driving Tasks.

Divided attention/attention switching Monitoring multiple sources of information that are all task-critical Turning, merging, or other maneuvers that simultaneously require precise tracking of vehicle position and rapid detection of conflicts.

Selective attention Directing and focusing attention on the most relevant sources of information, filtering noise and distractions Identifying a stop sign ahead that is surrounded by “visual clutter,” either natural or manmade objects near the target
Visual attention/speed of processing Extracting information from a portion of the visual field for more in-depth processing, such that stimuli detected are subsequently recognized and may be responded to Being aware of other people or vehicles in the visual periphery while concentrating attention on the car directly ahead, particularly at intersections
Visual search Directing gaze fixations to locations where situationally important information can be acquired and processed Identifying sources of regulatory and directional information;

Landmarks for navigation and conflicts:

Visuospatial abilities Organizing visual information into identifiable forms, especially recognizing a whole object when information is missing Anticipating conflicts when only a part of a pedestrian, cyclist, or vehicle can be seen behind an obstruction
Working memory The cognitive resource needed to process new inputs while retaining and manipulating information for current use Remembering and following directions with error-free headway maintenance in dense traffic.

Permanent (long-term) memory Previously learned information that can be retrieved when needed Remembering the meaning of symbols and signals used for traffic control
Executive function (reasoning; decision-making) Identifying rules and making inferences; choosing (rapidly and correctly) among a range of alternative actions Changing a planned action/maneuver in response to an unexpected event
Geographic orientation Knowledge of familiar locations and/or being able to use strategies for route following and to find new destinations Map utilization, including following a “mental map”; driving to familiar areas/locations
Vigilance The ability to maintain or sustain attention over a long period Driving long distances or driving during sleep deprivation.

Motor function – Physical skill:

Physical skill is needed for vehicle manoeuvring; strength, range of motion, head/neck mobility is required for safe driving; these have been established to also decline with age. However, improvement in vehicle technology has reduced the consequences of such deficiency.

Attitude is said to be everything but it is not alone the key to safe driving; it represents values and beliefs based on past experience (good or bad), we often rationalize our past behaviours or that of others in making decision.

Attitudes influence driving ability on the road.

  • I will give it whatever it will take.
  • Nonchalant attitude – I don’t care.
  • I am a good driver.
  • Overconfident
  • Non vulnerable attitude.
  • My driving is my private business.
  • Driving is easy.
  • Posted speed limit is too low.
  • I don’t have a choice!

Obedience to traffic law because of fear of punishment & sense of obligation. Some do because of perceived danger to themselves and other road users Choosing between two evils…is not defensive driving.


Driver performance captures what a driver can do, but the behaviour is what the driver does do. Very few really bad behave drivers kill other people; most serious crashes are caused by normally good safe drivers having a bad moment, such as being distracted; or by two or more drivers each taking an apparently minor risk at the same time. (Dangerous, or consistently bad drivers most usually kill themselves in lone crashes)
When road traffic crashes are analysed, it is easy to lose sight of the genuine cause and concentrate on obvious effects. It is not enough to examine the apparent causes of road crashes; it is essential to identify the underlying reasons that make people behave in an irrational moment of stupidity.

For example: What is the essential cause of a standard nose-to-tail collision?
Is it…

Following too fast?
Following too closely? Or Not concentrating on potential traffic changes ahead?

The answer doesn’t matter, because the questions are wrong.

The significant question that should be asked is ‘why do all drivers drive so closely when following other traffic?’

Do they assume they can always stop in time?
Do they not think about the risk at all?

Or could it be that they are keeping the gap closed up to prevent others overtaking and then cutting in? Lagos traffic go slow!
Do they realise the risk but still not care?

97.5% of all car crashes faulty driver behaviour or road users’ actions are a significant cause – a combined factor; while 88.5% of car crashes, drivers’ actions are the sole cause – a lone factor.

Some driving behaviours displayed on the road include but not limited to the following:
Following too closely; causing nose to tail shunts;

Improper turning :- e.g. turning left unsafely, and hitting oncoming or emerging traffic;
Overtaking unsafely
Not indicating
Cutting up
Not paying attention.
Hogging the middle lane.
Driving too slowly.

Improper speed.
Racing at traffic lights and junctions.

There are a lot of factors that influences what a driver is expected to do;

Personality factor.
Uniform vs civilian.
Government vs private.
Lifestyle – attention to details.
Social norm–
Work pressure or target.
Traffic law/Enforcement – probability of detection affects behaviour of a driver not the severity of punishment.

So many lives could be safe if we acquire skills needed to drive safely, put up the right attitude and conduct ourselves appropriately. The approach that we should see every other person on the road apart from us as insane has outlived its usefulness.
Not many people have seen an insane person before or lived with one at a time; that someone behaves differently because he doesn’t know better does not mean he is insane, maybe the system allows it or it is a social norm; hence, crash avoidance should be that which is reinforced from you to others and not from others to you.

Medscape Education Pharmacists- http://www.medscape.org/pharmacists
Module 1: Functional Abilities and Safe Driving
Kathy Lococo; Renee Tyree, PharmD