By Tope Templer Olaiya
Today (November 18) is the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. Introduced by RoadPeace in the United Kingdom in 1993 and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in October 2005, the third Sunday in November every year is set aside to acknowledge victims of road traffic crashes and recognise the plight of their relatives, who must cope with the emotional and practical consequences of the tragic events.
The day focuses on both the overall scale and the devastation caused on individuals by road deaths and injuries, plus the impact on families and communities around the world. It also offers families and friends the opportunity to come together to remember loved ones, highlight the death toll and reflect on what can be done to prevent future deaths.
According to available statistics, road traffic crashes kill nearly 1.3 million people every year and injure or disable as many as 50 million more. They are the leading cause of death among young people aged 15–29 years.
Almost 4,000 people are killed and hundreds of thousands injured on roads throughout the world daily.
Many more have to cope with bereavement or the effects of injury and thus become part of the huge group of people affected by road carnage. Every 20 seconds somewhere in the world, a father, mother, son, daughter, colleague or friend is killed in a road traffic crash. For every person killed, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates another four will suffer long term life changing injury.
In Nigeria, the day’s commemoration has been muted since 2005 when the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution calling on governments to mark the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. The gap is being filled by nongovernmental organizations, who are using the day to draw public attention to road traffic crashes, their consequences and costs, and the measures, which can be taken to prevent them.
COMEMMORATING this year’s event, Steerite Driving School will from tomorrow till Wednesday hold 90 minutes sessions on the 3Ds of road traffic crashes, which are drunk driving, distracted driving and drowsy driving.
With the theme How Not To Be A Victim, organisers hope to enlighten, create awareness and focus on the needless consequences of road users’ actions, while impacting and sharpening participants’ hazard perception skills, which are crucial to collision avoidance and crash preventability.
The proprietor of the school, Mr. Akinfe Samuel, said beyond declarations, there should be strategies to achieving resolutions made by the world body. “This is the gap we are filling because regulatory agencies are not living up to their billing. As a driving school, we do our best to give qualitative lessons to learners and corporate drivers. After two weeks, they are released to handle the wheel in a hostile environment.
“We decided to go beyond those we train and reach out to the public with free sessions on safe driving because of the inherent danger in releasing learners into a hostile environment like Lagos where there are little respect for road users by drivers and motorcyclists.”
Lagos State Chief Vehicle Inspection Officer, Mr. Gbolahan Toriola, noted that for an accident to occur, three things must contribute to it: the road, vehicle and the driver, “and all lie with the driver, who controls the other factors. Safety lies in our hands and government cannot do it alone.
“While we may complain about bad roads, I think it’s a blessing in disguise because the high spate of accidents abroad is because of good roads, where most drivers tend to over-speed and as a result crash their vehicles, many of which find their way into the country,” he said.
Former military administrator of old Ondo State, Rear Admiral Sunday Abiodun Olukoya (Rtd), called for support for the new Lagos State Traffic Laws. According to him, Fashola has not reinvented the wheel. “He has only added bite to already existing laws, which is all in the bid to make our roads safer. We grew up in an environment where everybody was safe and you could move free on the road because drivers respected the road and other road users.
“The good old days has given way to chaos, a situation the governor is trying hard to redress. And as citizens, we must give him our support on this because for every road crash, there are three categories of victims: those who die, those injured and the many others traumatized by the incident.”
Partnering with the Nigerians Unite For Road Safety (NUFORSA), Steerlite Driving School is using this year’s commemoration to seek the following from government: recognition of the special day for road traffic victims; erection of a national memorial to road crash victims; funding for key remembrance events; ensure crash investigation institutions are functioning; and ensuring justice, care and support for injured road crash victims and bereaved families.
Others include introducing and enforcing speed limits on relevant roads; making road safety a police priority; introducing the strict liability law to protect vulnerable road users with a compensation plan; legislate articulated vehicle operations such as frequent trainings and installing wide-angle mirrors; and allocating funding to organizations supporting road crash victims and post-crash rescue.
Tips For Road Users
Never speed or tailgate (bumper to bumper).
Never go through red lights.
Never drink or drug drive.
Never hit and run.
Never use a phone while driving or any other distractions.
Always wear a safety belt and helmet.
Give more consideration to vulnerable road users.
Install speed limiters in own car.
Provide aids for crash victims on the road.