On Monday, November, 13, 2023 two messages got me pondering. It was the news of the road traffic crash that occurred on the Zaria-Kano road at about 15.24hours, involving a Toyota Hiace bus and a truck parked. The probable cause of the crash, according to information received, was fatigue and loss of control. Out of the 16 people involved in this crash, eleven deaths and five injuries were reported.
While I was still struggling to unravel the high index from just one crash, I received another sad news. This crash, I was informed, occurred along the Kankia-Kano road on the same November 13, 2023. The vehicles involved were a commercial bus and a trailer. The cause of this crash was speed and loss of control. Of the 56 people involved, another 11 were said to have died in that crash.
There was yet another crash on November, 14, 2023. This time the crash occurred at Nukunya-Mararaba road, Takum in Taraba State. Like the first crash, this crash occurred at about 1500 hours and involved two vehicles; a Ford and a commercial vehicle. Nine deaths were recorded out of the 14 people involved, as well as four people who sustained various degrees of injuries. The three fatal crashes all occurred about four weeks to the heightened high risk motorized driving characterized during the EMBER month season. These crashes are pointers to what might occur if the public buy-in into our safety messages are not improved upon.
Meanwhile, do you know that a road crash is someone’s fault, your fault. Please kindly think back and reflect on that crash. It does not matter whether someone died or not, just reflect on the things you did or did not do before it happened. What was your state of mind? Did you leave home angry? Emotionally drained due to one family pressure or the pressure from your landlord or maybe from your spouse?
Was it a carryover of office politicking that comes in different shades? Did you have enough rest? How good was your health? Sound or suspect? What was the state of your vehicle? Sound or manageable-Worn out tyres, faulty brakes, malfunctioning engine or electrical systems? What was the road like? The weather? How familiar were you to that road? When was the last time you drove by that same road?
How many of the road signs do you know and did you comply with them? Do you enjoy flouting traffic rules and yet you believe nothing will happen? Are you one of the boastful ones who are quick to flaunt your extensive contacts with the high and mighty? Do you know that more than 80 percent of road traffic crashes are due to such lawlessness, pedestrian and driver negligence and ignorance which has a huge financial cost and attendant suffering?
Now, why do you think these crashes happen? Do you think they are crashes which are someone’s fault? Or an accident which is something that happens unexpectedly and is not planned in advance. Do you think it is the will of God, as someone will say or the handwork of your enemy or some invisible forces? Behind every crash, is it someone’s fault? I know that a lot of us would say that someone is the Government; it’s Agencies such as the Federal Road Safety Corps since we enjoy buck passing on the other road user.
Take the case of our ongoing campaigns such as overloading, use of seat belts, driving without using your mobile phone or the one on crash helmet. Each time we insist on compliance, people insist the road must be fixed first. When we talk about the use of seat belts, what you hear is please go check speed on the highway. No one ever reflects on those deliberate errors that ultimately send someone seven feet. Whatever we think, remember that all these boil down to human error, negligence or insensitivity to the three indices that play vital roles-the environment, weather, motor vehicle.
My choice to detour is to make us appreciate the fact that while we think about the Road Marshal as a fun spoiler, that same Marshal’s concern is about our safety to stay alive. That is his first concern. That is his passion and this is why in throwing light on today’s topic, laying the foundation is paramount. That foundation is the driver, who like the boy and as a human being, makes mistakes; sometimes deliberate and must always reflect on our guidance to do it right.
In doing it right, the driver remains our focus. This is because once we get it right with drivers, we will succeed in making our roads better. This is why I found it quite amusing when last week I received some interesting text urging me to discuss the issues and not dodge the focus. To be candid, when I set out to answer your numerous requests, I thought very few people were interested. I never knew that there were a hand- full of readers who were in league with others. Now that we have laid the foundation for this piece, I hope you will bear with me and allow me to treat this my usual way. Remember, I am still waiting for responses on the numerous questions that I asked, since I told you that drivers hold the key to redressing road crashes. The next thing you must know is in handling road abuses. The Traffic Regulations, 2012 makes it explicit that only Licensed Drivers must be on the road. In Section 22(8) it shall be an offence for an unlicensed person and a person under 18 years to drive a vehicle or ride a motorcycle on the highway.