Deaths and injuries associated with road accidents in on the increase in Nigeria despite efforts to curb the trend by the Federal Government.
The menace is, however, not peculiar to Nigeria as there is a global epidemic of Road Traffic Accidents (RTA).
Globally, RTA is the major factor responsible for injury-related deaths and most common cause of disability.
Indeed, road accidents have been on the increase in Nigeria in the last six years, figures from the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and international groups such as the World Bank and World Health Organisation have shown.
Quoting the World Bank, the Nigeria Auto Journal, published by the Nigeria Auto Journalists Association in its current edition explained that 30,800 deaths are recorded on the Nigerian roads annually.
In the story titled, ‘High Road Crashes, Burden of a Nation’, the World Health Organisation puts the number of people killed yearly via road accidents in Nigeria at 41,693, which is 2.82 per cent of the global total.
The Journal unveiled this month (February 2023). read in part, “Local statistics show a total of 32,617 people died in 65,053 on Nigerian roads from 2016 to 2021, as revealed by Mr. Ayobami Omiyale, a retired assistant corps marshal of the FRSC at a recent retreat by the commission in Lagos.
“Quoting from the FRSC official statistics, he said 5,053 lives were lost in 2016, while 5,121 and 5,181 lives were cut short in 2017 and 2018 respectively. In 2019 and 2020, about 5,483 and 5,574 lives were also lost respectively while 6,205 lives got perished in 2021.
“The National Bureau of Statistics, relying on the FRSC data, revealed that 1,834 people died in 3,345 road accidents in the country between January and March 2022.”
Although the figures from the international groups may be higher than those provided by the FRSC, the latter puts the daily average of road accidents in Nigeria at 36 with high casualties.
Chief Executive Officer, Safety Beyond Borders, Mr Patrick Adenusi, explained that many road accidents recorded in the night, especially in northern Nigeria, are hardly reported.
The FRSC Corps Marshal Dauda Biu attributed a recent Ojuelegba Bridge accident in Lagos to wrongful overtaking and excessive speeding by the truck driver. Nine people including two children died in the crash in which a truck carrying a container fell on a commercial bus.
The FRSC and NBS also listed factors responsible for the road crashes as light/sign violation, dangerous driving and tyre-burst, break failures, route violation and bad roads.
Segun Ogungbemide, Lagos Sector Commander of the FRSC, tries to exonerate the corps from the rising road crashes saying they only have the capacity to address only 16 per cent of the problem. “The one that will give more impact is to keep policies and regulations in place to prevent the crashes from happening,” he stated.
But the report notes that road marshals, vehicle inspection officers (VIOs) and highway police as well as state traffic law enforcers are no longer as effective as they used to be.
Many safety campaigns and strategies by the FRSC to curtail road crashes have either disappeared or played down. Some of them are the installation speed limiter in vehicles; use of seat belt; crash helmet; use of alcolyzer and radar gun to know drunk driver and over-speeding driver respectively.
Analysts also accused the officials of the agency of placing emphasis on gratification and revenue generation at the expense of safety.
Before things started going bad, many road safety enlightenment campaigns and enforcement had been embarked upon by the FRSC and relevant agencies across the country. Some of them are operation use of safety belt, installation of speed limiter in vehicles, use of crash helmet by every motorcycle rider and passenger, compulsory psychiatric test for driving against the traffic (one-way driving), arrest of driver using phone while driving and don’t drink while driving.
The report also mentioned the different strategies and facilities used during enforcement such as alcolyzer and radar gun but regrettably noted that they had all disappeared.