In Nigeria today, valid records has revealed alarming rate of premature deaths where great and promising stars, intellectuals, great researchers, world changers, entrepreneurs and so on had been sent to the world beyond through road crashes . According to the World Health Organization report, Nigeria has the second highest road traffic accident fatalities among the 193 countries of the world. This trend is adversely affecting the health system in Nigeria and hampering its attainment of Millennium Development Goals.
Also, the national focal Person for United Nations UN-Decade of Action in Nigeria Dr. Sydney Ibeanusi said over 80% of injuries in Nigeria are traffic accident related, stressing that road traffic accidents are the third leading cause of death in the country. He said 1.3 million persons are killed and 50 millions injured globally each year from road crashes.
These avoidable crashes are caused by drivers’ attitude and behaviours towards simple safety rules behind the wheel.
The Nigerian motorists Behaviour and Attitude are not complementary as they handle the vehicles and use the roads without due considerations to safety. These attitudes include.
– Non use of Seatbelt
– Use of Cell Phone/that resorts to distraction
– Route Violation
– Drunk driving
– Dangerous Overtaking
– Traffic-light violation
– Pedestrians not giving right of way at Zebra Crossing
– Lack of road-courtesy on the roads
– Indiscriminate blaring of horns
– Abuse of head lamps
– Reckless driving
– Excessive speeds
– Physical and Mental Unfitness and many other simple road etiquettes.
The urgent question every Stakeholder should answer is “Can we continue like this? What is the way forward?
The way forward lies with you and I, the Stakeholders directly involved in this issue, the Transporters, Commuters, Private vehicle owners and the law enforcements agents.
Safety is a “MUST” for all Nigerian Motorists to take seriously or see as the most important in driving.
Driving essentially deals with life, and life has no duplicate or replacement. The wealth of the world put together cannot be compared to the worth of one life.
Drivers are therefore urged to drive to stay alive and preserve God’s treasured entity-Man. Drivers are custodians of all God’s creation. God loaded man with different talents, potentials, abilities; great destinies in various capacities for the purpose of fulfilling His will on the earth, therefore giving utmost attention to safety, this cannot be overemphasised.
Globally, there are campaigns on safety, tagged “Decade of Action for Road Safety “embarked on by all countries of the world.
“The Decade of Action for safety can help all countries drive along the path to a more secure future. Today, partners around the world are releasing national or citywide plans for the Decade, hosting policy discussions and enabling people affected by road crashes to share their stories widely.
Now we need to move this campaign into high gear and steer our world to safer roads ahead. Together, we can save millions of lives.” Says; UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon on the launch of the Decade of Action for Road Safety on 11th May, 2011.
These visions can be achieved through safety including right attitude while driving by all category of Motorists. To achieve this- Nigeria Motorists need to develop a safe driving culture which includes the following:
i. Practice Defensive Driving Techniques
ii. Obey all traffic rules and regulations
iii. Emotional control and Accepting Responsibilities for Driving Decisions
PRACTISE DEFENSIVE DRIVING TECHNIQUES
Always observe maximum speed laws on highways and expressways.
The law states that you should never drive at a speed that is faster than what is safe and you should neither impede nor block the flow of traffic.
*Anticipation: In all aspects of driving, you must be able to anticipate sudden changes, possible emergencies and high risk areas. You need to make right/timely decisions when you are confronted with any of these situations.
- It is a must that you should make sure your vehicle is properly maintained.
- Always wear your seatbelt and make sure your passengers do the same.
- You must choose a speed most appropriate for the particular road you are plying.
- Also, make sure you have a safe cushion all around your vehicle whenever possible.
- Be at alert always and be aware of the actions of all other road users including
motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians.
- Watch the road ahead of you, behind and on both sides of your vehicle.
- You must anticipate problems early and select the best course of action in case the
- Give other drivers the benefit of doubt when they make mistakes.
- Observe maximum speed limits on highways and expressways; the law always states that you should never drive at a speed that is faster than what is safer and you should neither impede nor block the flow of traffic speed limit apply even when no visible or noticeable post are around.
Hurriedness and stress due to poor time management are major contributions to collisions. When you don’t give yourself enough time to rest before you embark on that important travel, you will only become stressed up. Rushing while behind the wheel will cause you to take chances, speed and become a road hazard.
You need to allow sufficient time to drive for long road trips and be prepared for unexpected problems. Being prepared will help you; reduce stress with any problems you may encounter. Avoid driving while under severe duress because you will not be able to focus on the tribulations of the road.
OBEY TRAFFIC RULES AND REGULATIONS:
Motor vehicle operators often look at traffic laws with disdain. People stress the negative aspects of the law rather than the positive side. But traffic laws are in place to save life. Without laws anarchy will reign supreme on the highways. Drivers violate traffic laws many atimes before they are apprehended.
Occasional motivations given to drivers with adequate training/re-training programmes do encourage them to practice better driving-habits on the roads.
STRESS EMOTION AND FATIGUE:
Stress, emotions and fatigue will always affect your ability to drive; therefore you need to possess an attitude that will allow you to operate a motor-vehicle safely. This means among other things that you should not allow external circumstances to distract you from the driving task, for example: environmental factors will change your driving habits, but it should not keep you from being a safer driver.
You need a positive attitude towards law enforcement because that could only benefit you. Driving is a privilege that the state extended to you because you meet prescribed criteria. Therefore there is no right to drive and as a license-holder you are merely exercising a privilege granted to you by government; the enforcers of laws. You must always try to keep a positive attitude when behind the wheel.
It must be mentioned that there is need to ensure regular Driver Education and Training in other to achieve the above stated requirements for safe driving.
DRIVER EDUCATION AND TRAINING:
A general knowledge of safe driving techniques and penalties for violating traffic laws can help to make drivers have right choices to be safer drivers.
Benefits derived from periodic participation in traffic safety programmes should not be forgotten as yearly reminders of these techniques should be followed as they are just too important. Penalties for negligent driving can range from traffic tickets bookings to license suspension.
The Lagos State Government established Lagos State Drivers’ Institute where Mandatory and Structured Courses are available for all categories of drivers and adequate knowledge of driving skills are programmed in the course of studies in this regard. This is meant to improve drivers’ skills and knowledge thereby changing driver’s attitude positively while driving.
In conclusion, drivers should change their attitudes positively so as to avoid stiffer penalty like court cases and avoidable deaths.
I thank you all for listening attentively
(A Paper presented by Mrs. Bola Tiamiyu, Head, Corporate Affairs Department of Lagos State Drivers’ Institute on the occasion of Auto Tyre Safety Day organized by Automobiles And Road Safety Initiative in Lagos, Nigeria on Thursday 5th September, 2013).