THE new Lagos State traffic law if executed to the letters will soon take up all the prison spaces in the country. The lesson may just be that awareness about traffic laws is so low that governments should invest more on education if they intend to make the roads safer.
High number of arrests made in a 10-day exercise that tested Lagos commercial drivers for drugs, drunkenness and defects were indications that many drivers do not appreciate the implications of their actions, and in some cases, their health conditions. The law being blind to ignorance as a reason for committing an offence would punish them unsparingly.
Of the 2,500 commercial drivers tested, 441 (17.64 per cent) were positive to drugs, especially marijuana and cocaine; 781 (31.24 per cent) were under the influence of alcohol. Other discoveries: 601 (24.04 per cent) were hypertensive and some had visual impairments.
Some of these challenges are issues that transend traffic offences and should be tackled on a wider scale for the greater implications they also have for the well-being of people.
The environment in Lagos, the roads inclusive, can pre-dispose people to hypertension. Tension tankers, trucks and trailers cause with their unsecured contents deserves immediate action. There should be times those types of vehicles should not use certain roads. There is no point lamenting the accidents they cause without acting to avoid them.
A particular area of failure for the government is the permissiveness it grants motorcycle riders, who delight in impunity. They operate without a sense of safety and easily compromise efforts of others in observing traffic regulations. They require special education.
Drunk-driving, is easier to test, since the state government has acquired breath analyzer, but the tests should not be reserved for commercial drivers. Drivers of private vehicles, and motorcycle riders, can also be above the permitted drinking limit.
Years back, there were laws banning the sale of alcohol in motor parks, but they have always been breached. Moreover, there are enough mobile alcohol hawkers to feed the desires of drivers. The restriction on sale of alcohol to drivers would require more creative management to be effective.
If it is so minded, Lagos State could make billions of Naira, in months from its traffic law, but since the aim is not a revenue drive, the state should be seen as acting for the greater interest of the public through measures that are firm and fair.
More investments in creating more public awareness on these matters are needed otherwise the state would waste resources on arrests and prosecutions while the main purpose of the law, which is safety on the roads, would not be achieved.