By Theodore Opara
MR. Patrick Adenusi, a road safety crusader, and Dr. Oscar Odibo, automotive consultant and senior lecturer at Covenant University have called on the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, to thread softly with its recent pronouncement to send traffic offender to Psychiatric test as from July 1, 2017. The experts who reacted to FRSC recent ultimatum warned that Corps should use advocacy rather than punitive measures in tackling the traffic problems on our roads.
According to Mr. Adenusi, who is also the founder of Safety Beyond Boarders, “As good as the pronouncement sounds, they have forgotten that in other climes, they have road signs that caution on the dangers and consequences of dangerous driving and traffic offences. Yes, see these signs are boldly written, ‘drive now, text later,” ‘use of phones while driving is prohibited.” But in Nigeria, there are no such signages.
“I agree Nigerians don’t know how to drive but the signages are not there. I am in support of sending people who drive against traffic to psychiatric test as well as people who engage in dangerous driving. I agree Nigerians don’t know how to drive but there are no signages on our roads too.”
He, however, urged the FRSC to clarify what the law says on use of phone while driving. “Is the law saying, people can use hands-free or not? But the two can cause distraction because when you are talking, your attention is divided.”
He also urged them to extend their sanctions on other Nigerians who use phones while walking on the road. The same distribution, a driver encounters is the same with those who are walking and using the phone on the road. He recalled that the FRSC is always coming up with pronouncements of this nature but would abandon them midway.
One of the challenges is that they will come up with something and in the next few months they will drop it. “The moment someone takes them to court, they will jettison the idea like in the case of number plate which we now have three categories, the helmet issue, etc.” Although, he said the FRSC is underfunded, he warned that they should do more of advocacy.
In his response, Dr. Odibo noted. “It is looking like the way to go. But, it seems they have abandoned what they were known for in the past. They need to upgrade their information dissemination. Back in the day they use to run campaign and carry people along instead of coming up with something they can’t execute. They will make money out of it. Instead of making punitive pronouncements, they should make it an advocacy and carry the society alone. They can apply society friendly advocacy.”
He further argued that before you send someone to psychiatric hospital, you must have your evidence otherwise, the agency could be sued. The cameras should be able to pick when the person was making the call, otherwise it would be difficult to prove. It should be recalled that the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) said that it will resume enforcement of psychiatric tests on traffic law offenders in the country with effect from July 1.
According to Bisi Kazeem, FRSC ‘s Corps Public Education Officer, in a press statement in Abuja, Corps Marshal, Dr Boboye Oyeyemi, stated this at the opening of a five-day training programme for 22 FRSC officials on traffic safety for non-motorised transportation (NMT) in Abuja. Oyeyemi said the test would focus on four areas of violations namely, use of phone while driving, traffic light and route violations as well as dangerous driving.
The move, according to him, is necessitated by continued violations in the identified four areas despite efforts by the Corps to change the behaviour of motorists through education and enforcement. “We are worried about the continuous use of phone while driving, traffic light violations, route violations and dangerous driving. We will give them full directives to resume the referral of all these class of offenders to various government hospitals for check of their mental state.”