Friday, 29 July 2016

PALAVER TREE COMMENTARY: Road Accidents In Nigeria, Analysis And Discussion — Adeyemi Adedokun

Infographic of RTA Nigeria, 2013
By Adeyemi Adedokun

The above infographic visualizes the key areas in the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) Annual Report for 2013. In this article, we shall be discussing these key areas, shedding more light on their significance. Please note that there are some more important items in the report that could not be included in this chart but would be referred in the article.

The total population used in this report is believed to be 160 million people (as stated in the OECD/ITF report), total road length of 194 thousand kilometres (as cited by Vitus N. Nkoji), and total vehicle population of 10 million vehicles (as cited by FRSC Vehicle Inspection and Certification Head). This translates to 825 persons per km of road. According to World Bank ranking of number of vehicles per 1000 inhabitant in 2007, Nigeria ranked 143 with 31cars per 1,000 inhabitant. This is 2015 and this figure is yet to be updated. Imagine what the ranking would be with adequate data.

More vehicles on the road usually lead to more road accident as the risk of accident is increased with exposure. The impact of exposure on traffic safety is well reflected in the number of deaths and injury recorded on Nigerian roads.

6,450 Nigerians lost their lives on our roads in 2013, which includes 4,552 men, 1398 women, 299 boys and 201 girls. The report shows that men are almost four times more involved in road accident death. More data from the report content shows that between 2009 and 2013, 30435 people were killed in road accident in Nigeria (This is about the size of a European city, e.g. Gyula, Hungary). Also, 28,480 men, 9,198 women, 1,520 boys and 859 girls, a total of 40,057 people were injured in road accidents in 2013. Looking through the years, the report shows that 183,531 people were injured in road accidents between 2009 and 2013, and the extent of their injury is unknown.

The numbers support the report that Nigeria is ranked second-highest in the rate of road accidents among 193 countries of the world. A report from WHO adjudged Nigeria the most dangerous country in Africa with 33.7 deaths per 100,000 population every year. According to the report, one in every four road accident deaths in Africa occurs in Nigeria. A conclusion drawn by Nigeria watch states that next to Boko Haram insurgency, road accident is the second highest source of violent death in Nigeria.

‘You cannot control/develop what you cannot measure’, Tom DeMarco. This we believe, is the major reason why road accidents among other things in Nigeria remains consistently high, despite several intervention from agencies such as the World Bank and other organizations.

Every standard report starts out with an official national population statistics, with which the number of fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants is calculated. There seem to be several figures from different sources, which is perhaps why the FRSC decided to be silent on this one. The effect of this is seen in the report from the WHO, which concluded that Nigeria records 33.7 deaths per 100,000 inhabitant. This is ridiculously high by global standard and totally untrue according to the report from the FRSC, but no one has until now, publicly challenge this report and this is unfortunately the information available to the world on Wikipedia. The Nigerian population according to data from World Bank was 159.7 million in 2010. 6052 fatalities were recorded in 2013 according to the FRSC report. Using the formula from Indiana State in the US, this gives approximately 3.8 fatalities per 100,000 inhabitant. Fatality is a term for people killed in road accident either immediately or within 30 days from the day of crash. This is still relatively high in an environment where most accidents and fatalities are underreported. The report has no information about the total road length in the country or total vehicle population for adequate measurement and calculations, all which had to be sourced from different papers and reports.

70.6% of the total number of people killed in road accident in 2013 are men. These are fathers, uncles, brothers, sons, and friends to people. A report from WHO concluded that 3 out of every 4 road deaths are among men. We are losing are men! Children are also not excluded from this violent death, as a report from the FRSC stated that 1903 children were killed and 8667 children were injured in road traffic accidents between 2010 and 2014.

Underreporting of road accident is a global problem, but this problem is more amplified in Nigeria where little or no data is readily or easily available. The information available in this report seems to have recorded only road accidents on the highway and inter-city routes. Some routes were identified in the report published by OECD as black, due to high number of recorded accidents. But what about accidents on routes within the state? Like Ikorodu road in Lagos, Lugbe road in Abuja, intersections in Kaduna, Wamba road in Nasarawa, bridge in Anambra, and so on within the states where accidents are known to be frequent? Declaring these routes as black is not a public knowledge as the information is not available to the road users. Warning the public with data yields better result while treatment is being applied for correction.

The accident severity index in Yobe is proof that commercial vehicles constitutes the highest number of accidents and records the highest number of deaths with 55.8% of the total recorded cases. The severity index means that in Yobe, every 10 road accident gets 19.30 killed. There is an urgent need for an intervention in the public transport system in Nigeria, as this system is largely dominated by associations and communities of people with very little or no safety education. No wonder why the first property every Nigerian longs to acquire is a car. Private vehicles constituted (42.5%), Government vehicles (1.6%) and Diplomat vehicles (0.1%).

Speed violation is reported as the major cause of fatal accidents, with 32% of total cases reported. But this offence that has claimed and is still claiming several lives is only a 3 points offence in the FRSC traffic offence and penalties, with a fine of ₦3,000 only. The Lagos State government however seem to understand the effect of this matter and has placed a fine of ₦50,000 only on the same offence. Alcohol, which is known as a top accident cause globally, and readily available at almost every motor park across the country (in different forms like ‘shepe or paraga’, local herbs soaked in dry gin), is reported by the FRSC to constitute only 1% of the total accidents in the OECD report. This is clearly a case of lack of measurement. Nigeria by law allows BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) level of up to 0.5g/l, but anything above that becomes Driving under Influence offence (DUI), which is a 5points offence with a fine of ₦5,000 only. According to International Centre for Alcohol Policies (ICAP), BAC level between 0.2–0.9 mg/ml for a typical person could cause mood changes, acting inappropriately, impaired coordination, slowed reaction time and diminished response to pain. Even distracted driving records only 0.4% of the total accidents reported, in a country that constituted 76% of mobile internet share of web traffic in January 2015? Loss of Control caused 17.1%, Dangerous driving caused 12.1% and Fatigue caused 2% of fatal road accidents reported.

Nigeria is Africa’s fastest growing economy. This also means that our traffic and transportation problems are growing at a steady rate, and requires all the help it can get. The FRSC is doing a decent job to the best of their ability, just that their best might not be sufficient for the growing road safety needs. FRSC members need more training and capacity to meet the demand of enforcing the law. Other law enforcement agencies at both state and federal level also need to trained and synergize with the FRSC.

We have to set a national goal for our road transportation and safety, and also develop a national policy to drive the goal. In 1997, Sweden set a goal called ‘Vision Zero’ that aims to achieve zero road accident death and fatal injury on Swedish roads. The result of this vision has inspired several countries around the world to adopt the goal and also to develop individual national policy.

Nigeria needs a national policy for road safety that will protect our children who are the future of the nation and other vulnerable road users like pedestrians and old people from being violently killed and injured in road accidents, a policy that will ensure that vehicles that are not road-worthy are kept off our roads, a policy that will ensure the development of transportation and road safety research, a policy that will ensure that road safety education is part of our educational curriculum, a policy that will ensure that road safety platform is not used to extort the people but to educate, serve and prevent road accidents occurrence, and a policy that will make road safety and transportation data available to the public.

Our prayer is, very soon Boko Haram and terrorism will be completely defeated. But if we fail to attend to safety needs on our roads, uncountable number of Nigerians will continue to die and severely injured daily for reasons that could be measured and controlled. This could be you or me.

Adeyemi Adedokun is an Intelligent Transport researcher at Linköping University, Sweden. He is the founder of Accidentdata Nigeria, a road safety campaign initiative that aims to use crowdsourced information to build a public accident database and provide road safety education to Nigerians. He can be reached on +46729037809, and tweets @accidentdatang

Views expressed are solely that of author and does not represent views of nor its associates

NEWS POST: Accident Rate Still High In Nigeria, Says FRSC Boss

FRSC V-SAT Locations Nation Wide

In November, 2014, Daily Trust reported that the corps marshal and chief executive of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Boboye Oyeyemi, has said that despite the efforts of the corps to minimize road accidents in the country, the rate still remains high. He revealed that about US$100billion is lost yearly to road crashes by low and middle income countries. Oyeyemi emphasized that such huge losses undoubtedly hinder economic and social development, and therefore, inhibit national development efforts.

Delivering a 16-page speech entitled, “Governance and the Public Policy Process: The Contributions of the Federal Road Safety Corps to the Transformation Agenda,” at the 2014 annual public lecture organized by the University of Nigeria, Nsukka inside the Princess Alexandra Auditorium, Oyeyemi said reports of crashes recorded in the country over the years remained high, adding that victims of road accidents consisted mostly of young, productive and energetic segment of the national population.

 “They are either killed or injured in the Nigerian roads. We know from studies that low and middle income countries unfortunately are the most vulnerable to road traffic crashes. Currently, the sum of US$100billion being lost to road traffic crashes every year is almost twice the total development assistance received worldwide by developing countries,” he said.

Painting a graphic picture of the figures of road mishaps in the country and the casualties, Oyeyemi said:  “For the avoidance of doubt, a total of 6,052 people died from road traffic crashes in Nigeria in 2010, and by 2012 it was 6,092, while 6,450 died from road crashes last year, 2013. However, as at the last week of November, 2014, a total of 4,643 people died from road traffic crashes throughout the country. This decline is positive for the previous trend, but it remains high.

“The economic and social costs that these human losses have brought to bear on the nation are better imagined. But what is clear is that though the aforementioned number of people unfortunately died from avoidable road traffic crashes, the situation could have been worse without the presence of the FRSC men on the highways to caution, enlighten and enforce traffic laws on recalcitrant drivers while deploying rescue teams to assist crash victims so that those who would have lived do not die due to lack of prompt and efficient attention.”

He regretted that Nigeria, with a total road network of 204,200 kilometres, comprising 34,120 kilometres of federal roads, 30,500 kilometres of state roads, and 129,580 kilometres of local government roads, was characterized by lack of coherent national road policy on application of road standards.

“It also has limited professional and business capacity, resulting in inefficient services. In addition, the country’s road network lacks appropriate road design standards to keep pace with increased vehicular traffic volumes and vehicle weights,” he said, adding that this  was  in addition to the “lack of road markings, safety barriers and signage, which contribute to the high crashes and casualty rate on all roads.”

He appealed to state governments to fully buy into road safety, demonstrating political will through the establishment of state traffic agencies, while taking advantage of the FRSC training institutions to train their personnel.

“I call on all critical stakeholders, transport associations, insurance companies, government agencies, haulage and other professional associations to fully cooperate with all tenets of the national road traffic regulations, RTSSS, DSSP and other laudable programmes put in place by the FRSC to checkmate carnage on our roads,” Oyeyemi said.

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