Abubakar Jimoh

The increasing cases of automobile accidents in the country, especially during festive periods, have raised public concerns. As Christians across the globe prepare to celebrate another Christmas, it becomes paramount to once again remind Nigerians on the need for caution as they embark expedition to their respective home towns.

Citizens must be reminded that, previous years, automobile accidents killed thousands of people and left some with various degrees of injuries across the country. The last four months in a year, September, October, November and December, which are commonly referred to as ember periods; are seen as the period noted for road crashes in Nigeria.

Most times, people have always blamed the road crashes on a number of issues ranging from bad road network, over-speeding and other negligible practices. But, a statistical analysis carried out by the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), shows that majority of road accidents occur during festive periods. Also, between December 2009 and March, 2010 7,737 road accidents occurred; and 472 persons in more than 500 road accidents were reported injured in different parts of the country in December 2010. Undoubtedly, economic loss arising from road crashes has cost the nation a lot.

Meanwhile, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) under the leadership of Alhaji Muhammad Sani-Sidi has reiterated its desire to strengthen partnership with the Youths Against Disaster Initiative (YADI), Federal Roads Safety Commission (FRSC) and other relevant organizations such as the National Orientation Agency (NOA) purposely to intensify the level of campaign and sensitization against periodic disasters in the country. This is also to assist in grassroots disaster awareness creation to boost community resilience.

Apart from this, a joint-operation will not only help to complement the efforts of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) during the festive period, but also involve trained NEMA’s Search and Rescue teams to assist in providing coordinated first aid assistance to accident victims during the festive period.

Furthermore, it is recommended that preliminary check should be conducted on general vehicle devices such as steering, lights, windshield wipers, horns, turning signals, side or rearview mirrors, restraint systems, tyre and ensures these are in good conditions. Many road users, and particularly commercial cab drivers, reportedly pay little or no attention to these devices and by so doing, jeopardize their lives and those of innocent passengers onboard. Therefore, road users are encouraged to use modern radial tires which are reported to be significantly safer than the bias-ply tires of 25 years ago. In every 10, 000 miles, have your suspension and steering systems checked out by a competent mechanical engineer.

Effective use of anti-lock brakes prevent the wheels from locking up during emergency braking, thus, allowing modern vehicles to avoid many accidents that previously would have occurred. Not only will consideration for these be to the advantage of the road users, but also save hundreds of innocent lives from avoidable deaths. A number of auto crashes have been traced to the unethical behaviour such as consumption of alcohol identified with the road users before and while driving. It is a criminal offence driving under the influence of alcohol as it would be regarded as an act of driving a motor vehicle with blood levels of alcohol in excess of a legal limit.
Overnight journey is another live-consuming-practice common to most Nigerians, especially among the business population who are of less chance to travel during day, as they are occupied with daily business activities. In journey of this nature, drivers and passengers are exposed to series of physical and emotional tiredness making them sleepy. This could result to instant road accident.
Besides, armed robbers prefer to carry out attack on the highways at night when the road users would be helpless. Imagine a situation where a number of passengers are forced to lie on the road serving a blockage to coming vehicle(s) for another round of attack. Many have been killed this way as upcoming vehicles usually run over them.
Avoid over speeding as the faster a road driver speeds, the greater the chance of accident.
Statistics show that over-speeding has been responsible for many fatal road accidents. Also a research conducted by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) has revealed that mobile devices used while driving is also responsible for a great number of auto crashes.

Also, in a study conducted in 2002 by the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, it was estimated that about 2,600 people die each year and 330,000 are injured as a result of using cell phones while driving. It would be logical in this case to do away with cell phones and other technological gadgets while driving to avoid unnecessary distraction that could exhaust the mind. Finally, always obey traffic regulation and road signs such as traffic lights, instructional signals. For instance, if a traffic light shows red a driver must stop his vehicle before the stop line, while failure observe this is known as “running a red light” which is a criminal offence not only in Nigeria, but also United Kingdom.

Many have become victims of road accident for their disobedience, impatience and negligence to other safety regulations and instructions on the road. This article was first published on this column December, 2011; but reviewed to serve the current event.
Wishing you a blessed Xmas holiday!

Abubakar Jimoh is the National Coordinator, Youths Against Disaster Initiative (YADI).