Ten Safety Rules This Yuletide

05 Jan 2013

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...Continued from Last Week

Travelling after work is certainly not the ideal and this is a fact. After the mental and physician office work demands during the day, you will be too tired even though you will not realise it. The safest thing to do is to get a good night sleep (about 7-8hours of undisturbed sleep) and start your journey the next morning. there are those who think that loud music will keep you awake. Agreed that loud music, can, however it will help for a while .it might even distract you from the driving task or even send you to sleep. What about coffee? Gworo?

what if combined with cigarette? Caffeine is only a short term solution and will have less effect the more often you use it. It might make you feel more alert but it won’t keep you going for long. Seep, remains the long term solution. This reminds me of a personal experience way back at the greatest university-the University of Lagos. Although it had nothing to do with driving, it however taught me a little lesson about cheating nature. While on a post graduate programme, we went to what was then one of the bukas on campus to fill our stomach. After a good meal, my friend and classmate nick-names folly who is today a senior officer in one the services suggested we buy kola nut and top it up with his favourite-saint morris.

We obliged and bought kola nuts and cigarettes as suggested. We smoked plenty, topping it up with plenty of kola nut all in the name of dealing a deadly blow to sleep. to my  astonishment, as soon as we got into the post graduate library, my friend who incidentally took more of the gworo and cigarretee,  suddenly pulled off his shirt, dragged a table and was about to do the unexpected-sleep, when I jokingly challenged him and said, ‘old boy, how can you try that after all you have consumed. Of course, that friendly challenge and stupid joke almost resulted in a friendly fight by two friends whose real problem was sleep. to make peace, my good friend was allowed to sleep all night instead of our planned all night jarcking (reading). the last myth is that plenty of air through the window will keep me awake. Like all others discussed, this might give you a boost and help for a while, as might turning the air-conditioning.

But if you are tired, sleep still remains the solution. Some people assume that fatigue only affect long distance travelers. Any driver can suffer fatigue. like we stated earlier, broken sleep or too little sleep at night caused by power fluctuations, too much hanging out or armed robbery attacks which is common in most cities, sleep disorders(such as insomnia, narcolepsy and sleep apnoea) continuing pressures of stress, very demanding physical or mental work, caring for children and often the demands of daily living can drain your energies. judging if you are too tired to drive is the first question to ask yourself. But should you become a victim, please plan your trip with a good night rest uninterrupted. You should also plan to take regular breaks (at least every 2hours for 15minutes or more) stopping in towns along the way or at roadside rest stops. When you stop, get out of the car and walk around for a while-exercise, breathing deeply. You are> also advised to eat proper well balanced meals on journeys-not too much and not too little-and at your usual meal times. This will also ensure you take proper breaks.

It is also good to steer clear of fatty foods which can make you feel sluggish. Avoid the vogue among the average motorists to drink alcohol at all before driving or during breaks. Finally, please check what prescriptions medicines you are taking-some can affect your alertness or cause drowsiness. But if your case is really bad, please share the driving with someone else.

Section 4, sub section z (ff) of the Federal Road Safety Commission, (establishment) act, and 2007,  prohibits making or receiving phone calls while driving. In fact, it was because of this ugly trend that as sector commander in the federal capital territory, i introduced a compulsory psychiatric test for such offenders at the national hospital, in addition to one-week public enlightenment. You would be shocked to know that a good number of those arrested were found mentally unstable.

Today, the use of phone while driving, reading and sending text messages on the wheel has become the vogue all over the country. In Abuja, it is the pastime for even drivers still struggling to master their grip on the steering. Here Lagos, Kaduna, Kano and other cities, the madness has even caught up with okada riders and trekkers as they compete with drivers.. Phoning phobia is not just a Nigerian problem. It is global. After all, human beings exhibit same mannerisms irrespective or color or race.

In far away england, a derby haulier was slammed four and a half years jail term for causing a fatal crash while talking on a bluetooth headset. According to care on the road, a publication of the royal society for the prevention of accidents, marvyn richmond, aged 49,was so engrossed in a conversation with his mother that he failed to notice traffic ahead of him had come to a standstll, and ploughed into the back of the queue, killing a passenger in the van. He was jailed after being convicted at lincoln crown court for causing death by dangerous driving. Richmond, an hgv driver for 25- years was oblivious to all around him, because of the 23- minutes call to his mother and did not even apply the brakes of his scania hgv before ploughing into the traffic. Michael buston was killed outright, his brothet-in-law, peter long was badly injured, and the driver of the lorry at the front of the queue, andrejz matkowski, lost both arms.

According to the report, the fact that he had both hands on the wheel did not alter the fact that he was severely distracted by talking on his blue tooth headset. The use of hands free, according to the transport research laboratory, makes drivers four times more likely to have an accident, with concentration levels reduced for 10 -minutes after the call had ended. The report also showed that drivers making hands-free calls had slower reaction times than those who were slightly over the drink limit. This case is similar to the incident in abuja, except that no life was lost and nobody jailed although the act cited above in section 20 now provides a 7-years jail term for anyone who causes death by dangerous or reckless driving.

In the united kingdom, around 30 deaths on the roads each year are linked to mobile phone use even though the royal society for the prevention of accident (rosps) believes this is “just the tip of the iceberg” because so few drivers admit to using mobile phones when they cause crashes. Back home, the scenario is not different. It is hoped that the new FRSC regulations, which makes it illegal not to report an accident, would no doubt improve data collections with respect to crashes caused by phoning and driving.

What do you think of road signage on nigerian roads? Inadequate? Bastardized by hawkers, villagers? Do you know that a good number of nigerians who drive are ignorant about road signs? What do you think about transportation safety generally? Well, reflect on america ’s assessment of safety and transportation in nigeria - safety of public transportation: poor, urban road conditions/maintenance: poor, rural road conditions/maintenance: poor, availability of roadside assistance: poor, roads are generally poor condition, causing damage to vehicles and contributing to hazardous traffic conditions. There are few traffic conditions. There are few traffic lights or stop signs.

It is common for us to lament over the state of our roads and the inadequacy of road furniture. Strictly speaking, how many of us truly comply with the ‘inadequate’ signs that we have? As a christian the bible says that he that is faithful in little will be faithful in much. Must we then complain about inadequate signs when we rarely keep to the available ones?

A brief history of emergency road signs will be helpful in appreciating its importance. The earlist road signs were milestones, giving distance or directions. For example, the romans erected stone columns throughout their empire giving the distance to rome . In the middle ages, multidirectional signs at intersections became common giving directions to cities and towns.

Traffic signs became more important with the development of automobiles. The basic patterns of most traffic signs were set at the 1908 international road congress in rome . Since then there have been considerable change. Today they are almost all metal rather than wood and are coated with reflective sheeting of various types of nighttime and low light visibility. Road marking was introduced into the uk in the 1920’s. The united nations harmonized and introduced international traffic signs after second world war. That is why from south africa in africa to london in europe and in the united states of america , their signs all look alike.

In 1995, the United Kingdom had 2, 500, 000 signs and signals, 850, 000 road markings and 700, 000 road studs within roads in england alone. In nigeria , adequate records of signs are yet to be derived but available records of clustered billboards, which have little possible effect on highways safety, are about 50, 000 from 109 registered outdoor advertising companies.

Road signs are highway pictures provided to assist pedestrians and road users in the safe usage of the highway. They are basically placed at the roadside to impart information to road users on traffic regulations, special hazards and other road conditions. You should not only be familiar with the individual signs, you should recognize the special shapes and colours because the signs are classified and coded according to functions and to retro-reflectivity. What then is retro-reflectivity? It is the return of light incident to the source in the direction it came. Retro-reflectivity is the basic quality requirement of highway appurtenances. Retro-reflectivity increases road safety. If some minimum reflectivity is not maintained, the signs, delinators or markings will not accomplish the job it was intended to perform. Our signs are according to ferma publications, are yet to be of international standard. Except for roads in some parts of abuja and lagos, our highways are yearning for united nations international standard signs and markings both in shape, colors and above all in retro-reflectivity.
The manual on uniform traffic control (mutc) devices requires that signs and pavement marking should be reflectionised or illuminated. The concern for retro-reflectivity of pavement markings and signs caused the united state congress to pass a law in 1993 that requires the federal highways administration (ferma) to establish minimum maintained levels of retro-reflectivity of signs and pavement markings. We can enforce a little bit of reflectivity into our highways appurtenances.

A pavement marking that is not reflectorised or illuminated, says ferma is like a cosmetic application of white powder on a lady’s face that wears off with little perspiration. But a pavement marking is meant for safety and not for aesthetics.

It is not supposed to be like applied lipsticks on a woman’s lips, which sticks to the drinking cup after few sips. Pavement markings is meant to be of a high luminous intensity and not to be picked (stick to) up by vehicles tyres after few passes (sips).

It is expected that if minimum retro-reflectivity is maintained in our pavement markings, signs and delineations, there will be increase in nighttime and poor weather safety on our roads and ultimately fewer crashes, injuries and fatalities will be reported. Retro-reflectivity is a critical element that has helped u.s department of transport achieve its safety goals of reducing fatalities by 20%. Your knowledge of the traffic rules and regulations is also important as it ensures good driving culture .remember the biblical injunction which says obedience is better than sacrifice. Let it always be your key this season and always.
Learn these signs and always obey them.

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