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Road accidents kill about 300 people in 3 months

No fewer than 295 people were killed in road accidents during the first quarter of this year; a data-based survey conducted by Daily Trust has shown.

Although the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) said this figure does not tally with its statistics, it failed to avail this newspaper with the official figure.

The survey, which is based on incidents reported in major national dailies within the period in review, indicated that the accidents that occurred in 24 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) between January and March also left 315 people with various degrees of injuries.

The states where the accidents were recorded are Osun, Kwara, Kaduna, Sokoto, Niger, Bayelsa, Lagos, Kano, Oyo, FCT, Anambra, Osun, Kogi, Benue and Delta. Others are Ekiti, Ebonyi, Katsina, Plateau, Ogun, Ondo, Edo, Abia, and Taraba.

Ogun State (South West) recorded the highest number of deaths (43), followed by Kwara (North Central) with 28 reported cases.

Our correspondents report that the Kano- Kaduna-Abuja Highway; Abuja-Lokoja Highway; Lagos- Ibadan Expressway, among others, have claimed many lives.

While accidents occur in some of the roads because of their bad condition, fatalities are being recorded in some because of their good condition, which allows drivers to ignore ground rules.

Black New Year’s Day

Among the recorded cases was one in which two children died in an accident involving a Toyota car on New Year’s day at Ade Best axis, Isara, on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

The spokesperson for the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, in Ogun, Mrs Florence Okpe, who confirmed the incident to journalists in Abeokuta, said the incident occurred in the early hours of the fateful day, and was caused by speeding and loss of control.

Another incident was at Aiyere community along the Bode Saadu-Ilorin route in the Moro Local Government Area of Kwara State, where no fewer than 11 people were reportedly killed while seven others sustained varying degrees of injuries in a fatal road crash that occurred on January 2, this year.

The accident, which involved a DAF truck and a Toyota Hiace bus, was attributed to wrongful overtaking and speed violation.

The Kwara State Sector Commander of Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Mr Stephen Dawulung, who confirmed the incident, said that preliminary investigations revealed that the Toyota Hiace bus, coming from Gombe en route to Lagos, wrongfully overtook another vehicle resulting in a head-on collision with the oncoming DAF truck.

In another incident that occurred at the Kateri axis of the Kaduna-Abuja Highway, security agencies had reported that 19 people died in a ghastly road traffic crash on January 3.

Samuel Aruwan, Commissioner, Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs in Kaduna State, said in a statement that the crash was caused by a combination of speeding, and an exploding tyre, leading to a loss of control, which caused the vehicle to veer into the bush.

Out of 53 people that were reportedly involved in the crash; sixteen died on the spot, with three others later confirmed dead.

Also 34 victims sustained injuries which ranged from bruises and cuts to dislocations and head injuries, according to reports.

Similarly, 12 people lost their lives in an auto crash that happened along the Katsina-Ala-Zaki Biam Road on February 20.

According to an eyewitness account, the accident, which happened around midnight on the fateful Tuesday was caused by over speeding on the part of the two drivers.

The eyewitness claimed that one of the drivers, who was at top speed, tried to escape a pothole and, in the process, rammed into the next vehicle, which was also at speed.

Similarly, the FRSC confirmed that 13 people were killed while two persons sustained injuries in a motor accident at the Obajana market along the Obajana-Lokoja Road in Kogi State on March 31.

Samuel Oyedeji, the FRSC Sector Commander in the state, said the auto crash involved a commercial Sharon bus and an articulated truck conveying cement, adding that the bus had stopped at the market for passengers to buy some things when the cement truck lost control and rammed into it from behind.

In another reported incident, 10 passengers were killed in an auto crash along Serti-Bali Road in Taraba State on March 11 when a bus conveying 22 passengers from Gembu to Jalingo crashed at Garbabi, close to Bali town.

The driver of the bus was said to have lost control at a sharp bend near Garbabi town, leading to the crash.

Also, the FRSC had reportedly confirmed that six persons died in an automobile crash on the Onueke axis at the Afikpo-Abakaliki Road in Ebonyi on February 4.

The Sector Commander, FRSC, in the state, Igwe Nnabuife, told reporters in Abakaliki that the accident involved 17 persons noting that six persons died, while 11 were critically injured.

According to Nnabuife, the accident, which was caused by ‘wrong overtaking’ involved three vehicles: two articulated vehicles and a commercial bus belonging to Peace Mass Transit.

Major causes of road accidents

According to FRSC, excess speed, and overloading are the leading causes of road accidents in Nigeria.

However, experts have also identified other causes as bad roads, bad weather, poor vehicle maintenance, bad driving habits, and fatigue.

Gilbert Igbokwe, FRSC’s Zonal Commanding Officer in charge of Lagos and Ogun, said this at the ‘Don’t Drink and Drive’ campaign launch in Lagos in November last year: “Excess speed plus overloading is equal to mass suicide.”

According to him, “Alcohol is also a big factor that leads to crashes on our roads, as it blunts alertness and reduces motor coordination, affects their vision (making it blurred or doubled), makes it hard to tell whether other vehicles, pedestrians, or objects are close or far away, and makes drivers unable to react as quickly as when they need to,” he said during the event.

Responding to inquiries from Daily Trust, Jonas Agwu, Corps Public Education Officer, said: “From FRSC crash investigation reports on the dashboard, the major factors responsible for accidents on our roads are listed as overloading, especially the recent trend of loading of trailers with passengers, animals, and goods, route violation ‘One Way’, excessive speed, fatigue, night trips, wrongful overtaking, use of substandard tyres, as well as poor vehicle maintenance in addition to excessive speeding.

According to him, some of the measures put in place by the FRSC to regulate road crashes include the expansion of their operational base by establishing more commands for visibility, sustained stakeholder engagement, enhanced sensitisation and advocacy campaigns, and capacity building for staff.

“We are currently taking sensitisation and advocacy campaigns to loading bays, parks, and transit camps of trailers to enlighten them on key safety initiatives and the dangers of violating traffic regulations. The essence of this campaign is to mitigate trailer-related crashes on our roads. Our focus is to curry the buy-in of opinion and religious leaders as well as all shades of stakeholders”, he said.

 How to reduce road crashes – Expert

Transportation expert, Prof. Bamidele Badejo, in a chat with Daily Trust, blamed the increase in road crashes on poor vehicle maintenance as a result of the economic hardship in the land.

He also pointed at what he called “insecurity-induced crashes” as some drivers run into hitches and veer off the road while trying to avoid armed robbers or kidnappers on the highway.

Badejo, a Professor of Geography and Regional Planning with transportation bias and former Commissioner for Transport in Lagos State, called for an overhaul of the road infrastructure across the country.

He said many roads and highways in the country are in a deplorable state without an effective maintenance programme.

He charged the federal government to improve the state of the roads and put in place adequate road maintenance programmes.

The expert said, “We must improve and accelerate public transportation development. If we have a good public transportation system, people will go and use public transport rather than using their vehicles.

“With improved vehicle maintenance culture, it will definitely abate. Government should also set up security, policing and safety on the highways so we can have a very smooth ride all the time.

“We should step up maintenance and rehabilitation of our roads, especially those roads that can take away some vehicles from the highway. People avoid all those routes that are bad.

“We should also continue to educate and enlighten road users on the importance of adhering to the speed limit.”

(Daily Trust)

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