Still on Convoys

26 Jan 2013

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Safe driving with Jonas Agwu

Did you read my piece on, “The faces behind the 2012 road crashes?” In that piece, I particularly referred to the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu’s approach to convoy driving? I recalled how he told a group of VIP which included my humble self that he does not indulge in what Igbo drivers  call wa wa wa (reckless) driving. I went further to recommend his civil and exemplary approach to all convoy. I don’t know if you have ever spotted the convoy of Rauf Aregbesola, Governor of Osun State? What of Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State? Or Governor Raji Fashola of Lagos State? I have never seen Governor Amaechi’s convoy but I have seen that of Osun when we both drove from Osogbo, the State capital after a visit to his cabinet. While in Lagos as Sector Commander, I was equally privy to seeing Fashola a couple of times. What I saw between Fashola, Rauf and what my friend told me about Amaechi, gives me relief and hope that we will get there.Equally,I believe that with the pace set by the Governor of Kano State who not only has a Federal Road Safety Corps unit in Governor House but also  an FRSC pilot in his convoy, speaks volume of exemplary Governors and a future worth waiting for.

When or how soon we will get to this future, I am afraid I can’t really tell you. However, recent road crashes involving convoys of executives since the last part of December 2012 and the last two weeks of January,2013 paints a scary picture and worries me stiff. I am sure we still recall the tragic crash involving Governor Idris Wada of Kogi State whose ADC was killed. Last week, another crash occurred again involving Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo of Gombe State. The Governor’s convoy crash occurred on Gombe-Yola road when  the driver of a pickup van lost control at a sharp bend and hit a police van in the Governor’s convoy returning from a constituency tour in Shongom local government area about 9.15pm .The crash claimed one life while six others sustained various degrees of injury. You will recall that in my piece in early January, 2013, I talked about the March 15, 2011 crash involving Alhaji Ibrahim Shema,

Governor of Katsina State which INVOLVED 34 PEOPLE AND 4VEHICLES.5PEOPLE WERE KILLED INCLUDING THE GOVERNORS ADC while 10 others sustained serious injuries. Just last weekend, Deputy Governor of Niger State, Ahmed Musa Ibeto’s convoy was involved in a fatal crash resulting in the death of at least two persons. The crash occurred along the Minna-Kagara road at about 10.30am.The crash according to reports, was caused by the  rider of a motorcycle that was on high speed closely behind the car ahead of him which lost control and hit the vehicle that slowed down to dodge some potholes. The impact of running into the car caused the motorcycle to summersault and fell on the bonnet of the escort vehicle of the Deputy Governor. These crashes and their frequencies in addition to the casualty figures speak volumes.

This is why for the next two weeks, I wish to focus on convoy driving, trusting that some lessons can be borrowed from the few examples stated in this piece while the Corps prepares the follow up of the on-going convoy drivers training which started as far back as 2011 in collaboration with the Governors’ Forum which has Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers as chairman. Although the examples cited in this piece are all crashes involving convoys of Governors or Deputies, we must understand that convoy in its simplest definition is not restricted to groups of vehicles in the fleet of a government official. It could refer to private engagement such as marriages or any other social event even though what has caught the attention of the media, safety practitioners and the general public is the very bad examples of some official convoys. Ironically, most of the crashes involving these convoys are mostly speed related. Writing in his weekly column in the Vanguard, Dele Sobowale summed it up this way in his piece titled “ Crazy convoys, mindless killers; way forward”, ’’They should demonstrate more sense than to go about racing at 150kph, or more, on Nigeria’s bad roads as if they are on Formula I tracks in Dubai.

If any man drives his car or allows his driver to race his car at 150kph through a crowded road or a narrow road with several sharp bends, we will not hesitate to call him what he is…’’
A convoy is defined as a group of vehicles, typically motor vehicles or ships, traveling together for mutual support and protection. Often, a convoy is organized with armed defensive support, though it may also be used in a non-military sense, for example when driving through remote areas.

A convoy is all about the practise of safe driving & promotes discipline to all drivers of the convoy. The tagline in any convoy would be ‘Exercise Caution At All Times’. It takes a lot of practice to have a good convoy. Does ‘Convoy Rules’ mean anything to you?  For those for whom it doesn’t the following is intended to explain the meaning and purpose of a few simple rules.

The success of a convoy run depends on two things:
a) the driver of the lead car knowing where he is going.
b) The driver of each car staying, WITHOUT FAIL, with the car BEHIND; NOT the car in front.

In practice this means that each driver, starting with the lead car, drives in such a way that they never lose visual contact, for any significant period, with the car following. 

DO NOT attempt to stay with the car in front under any circumstance.  Your responsibility and allegiance is with the car BEHIND you.  Keep the car behind you in sight, if it is not the STOP in a safe place asap!

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