• As FRSC, stakeholders mark World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims
By Tope Templer Olaiya
The death last week of Prof. Festus Iyayi, former president of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) sent shock waves across the country. Iyayi, aged 66, died along the Lokoja-Abuja highway in a crash involving the convoy of Kogi State governor, Idris Wada.
Sadly, the radical university don is one of the latest additions to the increasing victims of road crashes in the country.
Ironically, last weekend, precisely Sunday, November 17, was 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 recognize 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 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.
Every 20 seconds somewhere in the world, a father, mother, son, daughter, colleague or friend is killed in a road accident. 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 low-key since 2005 when the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution calling on governments to mark the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims.
This gap is, however, being filled by an amalgamation of non-governmental organizations, which used the occasion to draw public attention to road traffic crashes, their consequences and costs, and the measures that can be taken to prevent them.
The highlight of this year’s event was the call by stakeholders for compensation of road accident victims. Facilitator of the Remembrance Road Walk held in Lagos on Saturday and CEO of Steerite Driving School, Akinfe Samuel Babatunde, said road transport in the country should be properly regulated.
“Road transport shouldn’t be an all-comers affair. It should be duly regulated like the air and water transport system. Until this is done, compensation for road accident victims will be a tall order because the regulation is not in place for insurance companies to indemnify victims’ families,” he said.
Last year, the focus was the three Ds of road traffic crashes, which are drunk driving, distracted driving and drowsy driving.
In furtherance of its mission to ensure safety on Nigerian roads, the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) in Enugu carried its message to the church. The Southeast zonal commanding officer of the commission, Assistant Corps Commander Chike Nwaka, who led other officers of the commission to the Christ Redemption Church, Anglican Communion, Enugu, urged Nigerians to change their attitudes and lifestyles.
The visit was part of activities to mark the 2013 Africa Road Safety Day/World Day for Remembrance of Road Traffic Crash Victims.
Lamenting the number of deaths and avoidable casualties caused by road traffic crashes, Nwaka called for a collaborative effort among all Nigerians. According to him, “over 200 people die daily in Nigeria due to road traffic crashes.
“The road is a place where every habit you have comes to the open. The simple thing they teach us in the church, ‘love your neighbour as you love yourself,’ is very important. If we demonstrate it on the highway, crashes will reduce. You don’t have to lose your cool on the wheel because of the behaviours of other road users,” he said.