The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and ExxonMobil with its joint venture partner, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), recently launched a new public awareness campaign on road safety. Part of the focus of the campaign is aimed at enforcing seatbelt usage and other regulations on Nigeria’s roads. The campaign has become necessary if Nigeria is to meet its target of reducing motor vehicular accidents and deaths. It is a known fact that some Nigerians are still averse to the use of the car seat belt. This is quite disturbing. The need for sustained enlightenment and enforcement of road safety cannot be overemphasized.
It will be recalled that on January, 1st, 2003, the Federal Road Safety Corps launched a decisive enforcement on the use of the seat belt nationwide. The launch can be said to be successful, with about 90% compliance level recorded all over the country especially when viewed against the background that wearing seatbelt at the time seem alien.
The focus as at then was on front seat occupants. Ten years down the line, ExxonMobil with its joint venture partner, NNPC, has partnered with FRSC for a renewed campaign to ramp up the seat belt usage and improve the compliance level not just for the front seat occupants but the entire occupants of the vehicle.
Though seat belts are usually built into the car for people’s safety, many tend to ignore them for various reasons. The reasons for non-use of seat belt by some people range from the distance they are to travel to comfort. Seat belt enforcement requires the fitting of seat belts to motor vehicles and/or the wearing of seat belts by motor vehicle occupants. Laws requiring the fitting of seat belts to cars are followed by laws mandating their use, with the effect that thousands of deaths on the road have been prevented.
Different laws apply in different countries to the wearing of seat belts. Globally, seat belt use is on the rise. Studies by road safety authorities conclude that seat belt legislation has reduced the number of casualties in road accidents. Studies of accident outcomes suggest that fatality rates among car occupants are reduced by between 30 and 50 per cent if seat belts are worn. Laws, education, and technology have increased seat belt use saving hundreds of thousands of lives. With all these facts known to some people, it is amazing that they do not use seat belt.
Seat belts can mean the difference between life and death in an auto accident. Wearing a seat belt every time you enter a vehicle is not only the smart thing to do it is the right thing because it saves lives, it’s the law. More than half of the people killed in car crashes were not restrained at the time of the crash. Seat belts dramatically reduce risk of death and serious injury.
Among drivers and front-seat passengers, seat belts reduce the risk of death by 45%, and cut the risk of serious injury by 50%. Seat belts also prevent drivers and passengers from being ejected during a crash. People not wearing seat belt are 30 times more likely to be ejected from a vehicle during a crash. More than 3 out of 4 people who are ejected during a crash die from their injuries.
No doubt, seat belts save thousands of lives each year, and increasing use would save thousands more. Wearing a seat belt is the most effective way to prevent death and serious injury in a crash. Statistics from traffic management agencies and groups in developed countries reveal percentage of severity of injuries of deaths resulting from non-use of seatbelts in the event of a crash or a sudden stop.
In the United Kingdom, out of the 1,432 car occupants killed in 2007, 34% had not belted up. An estimated 565 people were not using seatbelt when killed in 2005. 370 would have probably survived if they had been properly restrained. In Canada, the ‘insignificant’ 7% of people not wearing seatbelts account for almost 40% of fatalities in crashes. In the US, seatbelts saved almost 13,000 lives in 2009.
While air bags provide added protection, they cannot be a substitute for seat belts. An air bag protects a front seat passenger in a head on crash by inflating upon impact and cushioning the occupant from colliding with the steering wheel, dashboard, or windshield. Air bags are meant to work with seat belts, not replace them.
The combination of seat belts and air bags offers maximum protection for motorists and decreases the chance of death by as much as 40%.These facts show that increasing seat belt use is critical to reduce injury and save lives.
Seat belts also ensure stability of the driving position and better control of cars. When seat belts are strapped properly they help in maintaining better stability in your seat while driving at slow, cruising or high speeds. In addition, when one is driving at times and is forced to swerve, break suddenly or veer toward any direction on the road for reasons such as an oncoming car or slippery roads, wearing a seat belt helps to keep one behind the wheel and as such it might help to control the vehicle better. Better car control is sometimes very important especially after near collision cases where the driver has to ensure the car remains balanced and does not topple over.