Level-crossing gate would have prevented Lagos deadly train-bus clash – FRSC spokesman
The Corps Public Education Officer, Federal Roads Safety Corps, Mr Bisi Kazeem, in this interview with ABIODUN SANUSI explains the causes of train-bus accidents and how they can be reduced
What are the major causes of road accidents in Nigeria?
There are three major causes of road traffic crashes: human, mechanical, and environmental. Out of the three, the human factor constitutes about 90 per cent of road crashes in Nigeria, 80 per cent of which are based on drivers’ actions or reactions.
Available road traffic crash records in our database have clearly shown that the attitude of the average Nigerian driver towards driving codes and etiquette is the single most important contributing factor leading to crashes, and this solely contributes to about 80 per cent of road traffic crashes. While others, such as passengers and pedestrians, constitute the remaining 10 per cent of human causes.
On the drivers’ side, lack of concentration, overconfidence, fatigue, speeding, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, dangerous overtaking, and wrong parking, among others contribute to crashes.
On the other hand, the actions of passengers, who in most cases are the major casualties of crashes, include distraction and a nonchalant attitude, whereby they most often do not care to check the condition of the car before boarding. In addition, they often neglect the driver when he is speeding or driving recklessly.
And lastly, pedestrians, also contribute to road traffic crashes by not observing road traffic rules and regulations, also contribute. Some pedestrians walk or run across the road without looking and ensuring the road is safe to do so, while others do not wear reflective dresses or clothes at night so that drivers could easily see them. These behaviours contribute to road traffic crashes.
What has the FRSC done to resolve or curb these issues?
Education, enlightenment, sensitisation, and advocacy campaigns are needed to change the negative behaviours of road users.
On the other hand, we deploy our teams for the enforcement of traffic laws to deter offenders who violate them on our roads.
We have established the National Traffic Radio (107.1FM) to broaden the scope of our advocacy campaigns. We have enhanced our visibility on the highways and injected more operational tools into our operations.
What are those things you think should be done on the part of the citizens to alleviate the efforts of the FRSC?
We have always stated that road safety is everybody’s business, a collective responsibility that accrues to all citizens.
Everybody has a role to play in achieving a safe motoring environment. People’s level of safety consciousness should be reawakened. We should speak up when we see other road users violating established traffic regulations.
Everybody has a role to play: the government, the private sector, religious institutions, traditional institutions, civil society organisations and non-governmental organisations. When we all come together, identify our roles, and commit to playing them with passion, we shall all emerge victorious over the menace of road crashes.
If you go through the Nigeria Road Safety Strategy II (2021-2030), a document that contains FRSC strategies to combat road crashes and reduce the trauma and fatalities that come with them, you will realise that the responsibility of making the highways safer for all has been made all-encompassing with roles and responsibilities clearly defined.
How do you think the recent bus-train crash in Lagos could have been avoided?
It is simple; the crash itself was avoidable if only the driver exhibited discipline, and the passengers also played their part by calling him to order when he took the wrong path. Notwithstanding, if level-crossing railway gates are constructed by relevant authorities on all rail lines in urban centres, crashes like this would be curtailed by 100 per cent.
The issue of vehicle-train crashes is becoming more common in recent times; what would be a perfect solution to curb or eradicate it?
As I said earlier, if level-crossing railway gates are constructed on all rail lines in urban centres, crashes as this would come to an end. And safety warnings should be broadened to sensitise drivers against interference with rail tracks, whether or not they are in use by trains.
More so, traders who display their goods on or around train tracks should desist from doing so because the possibility of their actions causing a fatal crash is high.
Many road users have complained that there are not enough road signs on our roads; what’s the FRSC doing about this?
The FRSC only has a standard signage plant that produces road signs that meet global standards. We are not in the business of constructing roads; rather, our responsibility includes auditing the roads and making recommendations to the Federal and State Ministries of Works, FERMA, and other agencies responsible for road construction on the need to have all road infrastructures in place when roads are constructed. Where the signs are not placed, it’s our responsibility to bring them to their attention officially, and we have been doing that.
What’s the difference between the duties of the FRSC and those of the Vehicle Inspection Service officer?
The FRSC is a federal establishment given the mandate of being the lead agency in road safety administration and traffic management.
Our mission and vision are to eradicate road traffic crashes and create a safer motoring environment through robust public education, prompt rescue service, effective patrol operations, enhanced stakeholder collaboration, robust data management, and comprehensive motor vehicle administration.
The motor vehicle administration is an agency established by state governments and the FCT for vehicle inspection and other roles that will complement the Federal Road Safety Corps as well as advance safety on our roads. We are all working towards the same goal, with a clearly stated mandate.
According to the WHO, an estimated 41,693 deaths are expected to occur from road accidents annually. What new first aid plans does the FRSC have to attend to victims?
That estimation differs from what we have on record in our database. For example, in 2022, our record shows that in Nigeria, a total of 13,749 road crashes occurred, resulting in a total of 6,484 fatalities.
We have reviewed last year’s operational period and have put in place new strategies to drastically reduce the number of crashes in Nigeria.
Part of these strategies includes enhanced visibility, staff motivation for greater productivity and efficiency, the injection of operational tools, and a rejig of public enlightenment and sensitisation campaigns.
How can the volume of vehicular movement be reduced to curb traffic congestion in a place like Lagos?
Urbanisation and expansion are key. Broadening the scope of urban mass transits and making water transport more viable, as well as introducing intra-city railway operations with adequate procurement of modern trains, speed boats, and others.
This will most definitely reduce the pressure on the roads and discourage vehicle owners from always using their vehicles, especially to go to work and for other intra-city engagements.
What’s the FRSC doing concerning the creation of motorcycle, bicycle, and pedestrian lanes on major roads to curb accidents?
Of course, that’s why we have been talking about having in place adequate road infrastructure that will accommodate all categories of road users, including motorcycle riders.
When building roads, it is necessary to consider everyone who will use the road. Pedestrians should have their own lanes, as should cyclists, motorcyclists, disabled, vehicles, and even articulated vehicles. If this is done, it will reduce human-induced crashes a whole lot.
What are motorists supposed to do at intersections with inactive traffic lights?
When you get to an intersection, apply common sense by looking at all sides of the traffic flow so as to avoid a collision. You must reduce your speed to the barest minimum, be alert, exercise more patience, and be tolerant as you negotiate through the intersection.
What are the latest requirements for anyone to drive a car in Nigeria?
To drive in Nigeria, you must be 18 years of age or older, undergo a driving school, and then proceed to acquire a driver’s licence. This is because, without a driver’s licence, you are not permitted to mount the wheels.
Are there reasons why certain persons should not be allowed to drive in Nigeria? What are the reasons?
Sure, there are. If you’re underage, if you are over 79 years old, if you have very poor vision, if you are also mentally challenged, you don’t have any business driving on Nigerian roads.
Are victims of road accidents caused by government negligence compensated, and do you think they should be compensated?
Our job is to rescue crash victims, take them to the hospital and care for them where necessary, conduct an investigation into the cause of the crash, and hand over the driver to police for prosecution where need be. The prosecution aspect is solely within the jurisdiction of the Nigerian Police Force.