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Avoidable road crashes in Nigeria

By Afolabi Aribigbola

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The information about road crashes in Nigeria by the Public Relations Officer of the Nigerian Police Force revealed that the country records more road crashes than other countries in the world. He went further to indicate that the avoidable road accidents in Nigeria actually killed more innocent citizens than insecurity based on the records available to the police.

In other words, he opined that road accidents killed more Nigerians than insecurity that has become the most challenging intractable problem confronting the country for over a decade now. Unfortunately, recent incidences indicate that insecurity is not abating but it is actually escalating suggesting that the country is in for a difficult time for some time to come.

Indeed, as one was ruminating on the unpalatable information of the prevalence of more deaths from avoidable road crashes in Nigeria more than other countries in the world, the Police authority in Ondo State, informed the public of an accident by a commercial bus plying Akure to Lagos in which five precious lives of innocent persons were lost.

These were people that woke up from their houses and set out to carry out their daily assignments with the hope of returning home to their love ones and through no fault of theirs ended their earthly sojourn untimely by circumstances created by the environment they found themselves.

Like other incidences with deleterious consequences, avoidable crashes and associated loss of human lives have been a serious source of concern to well-meaning Nigerians. Of worrisome to us was how the country degenerated to a situation of becoming leader in number of deaths due to avoidable crashes and why has the destructive road accidents curtailed especially in the light of several actions to stop the carnage. Of course, the information is not only scary but very unacceptable because the crashes were associated with loss of precious lives and property and are occurring against the backdrop of several efforts to stem the dangerous tide in the country. One will recollect that the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) was established in 1988 to stop incessant road accidents and avoidable loss of lives in all parts of Nigeria. The unpalatable information underscored the magnitude of the problem and the need to begin to seriousness take another look at the problem and to work assiduously to ensure safety on Nigerian roads. And reverse the bad record of road crashes and associated deaths.

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Also, the need to reexamine the reason for the escalation in the number of road accidents and its fatalities in the country at a period in which it is declining in other societies globally. This requires decisive action and solution. The country cannot continue to lose her people on the roads, a situation that can be prevented or drastically reduced if the needful are done. This is essential because despite concerted efforts including creation of FRSC, the crashes on the Nigerian roads and associated deaths have continue to grow in leaps.

Measures put in place to stem the tide also included construction and improvement of roads in all parts of the country, introduction of road signs and bumps to improve the roads and regulation to ensure the roads are safe. Yet road crashes continued to be on the rise in most cases because of human related factors. Of course, now that we are confronted with the undignified leader in road crashes and its fatalities, the country cannot afford to continue to bemoan the crisis, realistic solutions needed to be found for the cankerworm of avoidable accidents in Nigeria. Suffice to say the leadership of the country must acknowledge the seriousness of the problem and begin a search for viable solution to reduce road crashes and its severity in the society.  This is because accidents generally cannot be stopped outrightly but can be drastically reduced and its consequences ameliorated as obtainable in organized climes where high premium are placed on human lives. Unfortunately, the reverse is the case in Nigeria.

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 When crashes occur, little energy is dissipated to find out why and deal with the culprit or whoever is responsible. Shortly after, people forget and business continue as usual, even by law enforcement agents that are expected to take certain action including apprehending and prosecuting offenders or the person that caused the crash. One of the best ways out of the growing challenge of road crashes in the country is to isolate the causes to see how to resolve them. Generally, as we all know, most road crashes are results of human actions or inactions which has been termed human factor. Most accidents resulted from the behaviour of drivers that embrace over speeding, reckless driving, wrong overtaking, drunk driving and failure to obey traffic regulations and signs along the roads. The prevailing harsh economic situation in the country has made acquisition of new vehicles almost impossible.

Therefore, most of the vehicles plying the roads are very old while many have come to the end of their useful life. Yet they continue to be on the road because their owners cannot procure new ones to replace them and they must survive the hard time. In short, most of the vehicles are not road worthy. Other causes of road crashes include poor condition of the roads, weak traffic management practices and corruption on the part of law enforcement agents partaking in unhealthy practices including overloading of vehicles, permitting untrained persons to drive, failure to punish traffic offenders among several others. Since the unenviable record of road crashes in Nigeria must not be permitted to persist and so decisive action must be made to stem and reduce it to ensure more lives are not lost to accident. Of course, since we all know that road crashes in general cannot be stopped outrightly because of some of the factors enumerated above, even where the best road system and facilities are available. However, there are ways to reduce the number and frequency of road crashes in the country.

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Consequently, there is the need to embrace and emplace adequate road safety measures, devices and activities that can checkmate and reduce incidences of road carnages generally in the country. FRSC and other security agencies must be more alive to their responsibilities and be committed to dealing with indiscipline that is prevalent among their men and the road users especially among the commercial drivers.

Also, to curb incessant road crashes and avoidable deaths on the road, there is the need to introduce extensive system of regulations to ensure safety on the major roads as well and ensure strict enforcement of regulation to instill discipline on the otherwise indiscipline road users. On the poor condition of our roads, there is the need to improve on them and install road signs and signals to warn drivers about the dangerous nature of the road, more driver education to embrace safety precautions on the roads that should be introduced. The quality of vehicles on the Nigerian roads requires significant improvement. Old and rickety vehicles that are not fit for human use need to be removed from the roads. If Nigerian roads are to be free of crashes and avoidable death, all Nigerians must rise to fight the cankerworm. 

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Avoidable road crashes in Nigeria

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