NIGERIA is reputed to have the second highest rate of road accidents among 193 countries and deaths from reckless driving are the third leading cause of death in Nigeria. In 2012, at least 473 persons died from a total of 1,115 vehicular accidents nationwide.
April may go down as the worst month in terms of road accidents in 2013.
·April 3: A luxury bus and a smaller bus crashed on the Abuja-Lokoja Road, 18 died.
·April 5: A petrol tanker set luxury bus and articulated vehicle ablaze at Ugbogui village on Ore-Benin Expressway, 80 people were burnt beyond recognition.
· April 6: At Dazigan, 11 kilometres from Potiskum, Yobe State, 20 died in an accident.
· April 11: 10 died on the Damaturu-Gashua Road also in Yobe State.
· April 14: Seven died on the Abuja-Lokoja Road, a car ran into an articulated vehicle.
· April 15: Five died on the Asaba-Onitsha Expressway.
By the middle of April, 142 people had died from reported motor accidents, 30 per cent of the 473 deaths recorded in 2012 had been covered in only 15 days! Are we the only ones panicking? There could be more unreported cases, and as often happens, some of the injured die without making the statistics.
What inform compilation of travellers’ manifests and payment of insurance premiums? Who collects the money? Why are insurance companies not paying families of accident victims claims? There is no record of any payment for loss of lives and disabilities from road accidents though it is stated that fares include insurance covers.
Put differently, Nigerian roads have become killing fields without protection for their users. Travellers heave a sigh of relief if they make their destinations. The worrisome trend has tremendous negative impact on the nation’s health system as well as its social and economic aspirations. Who takes responsibility for these?
Are the campaigns of the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, effective, going by the recurring carnage on our roads? Are these campaigns substitutes for proper road construction and maintenance culture, maintenance of vehicles, regulation of articulated trucks and petrol tankers, sanctions on owners of vehicles that cause mass deaths on our roads? When bad roads cause accidents, governments that failed to maintain the roads should share in the liability.
Efforts must be made to curb the menace of the tankers and articulated vehicles on our roads. The carnage has to be stopped. All the various agencies that should ensure safer roads should work together to save lives. Public enlightenment should be intensified. Our roads would be safer if they are well built, well maintained and a culture of obeying traffic regulations is enforced.