The Menace Of Wrong Way Driving


She was the third and only girl child in a family of six. Cute, humble, brillant and athletic, ebony black Cynthia was the darling of the family especially the late father whose bonding with Cynthia was cemented when at the early age of 50, he was diagnosed with a deadly ailment that kept him bedridden for over ten months in the hospital. For ten months, Cynthia who had earlier lost the mother in a road traffic crash which claimed the lives of over ten passengers was the wife, mother, nurse and the prayer warrior whose soothing voice woke other patients as she daily sought for heavens divine intervention for her father and other patients whose predication only needed a touch from above. Despite her tender age of 18years when the father took ill, she played the script professionally as if she was destined for that role. Her faith played out well as her father after a couple of months miraculously got healed and was discharged alongside some other patients who nicknamed themselves  ‘landlords ‘because of their long stay in the hospital.

Barely twelve months after, Cynthia’s joy was short-lived when she lost her father in a bizarre circumstance. Now an orphan, she struggled, selling and buying in addition to doing odd jobs such as working as nanny to different families at different time. It was in the course of this life struggle that heaven smiled on her when a Christian family took interest and offered to bring her in as a step daughter, promising to provide for her what she lost through the death of her parents including sponsorship for her education. It was this promise that paved the way for Cynthia who was admitted to one of the famous State University to study for a degree in Law. From the first year, she shone like the star that she is emerging best overall student both in her first and second year. On her third year however, tragedy struck as Cynthia who was in a company of two other colleagues was about crossing the road when a patrol vehicle belonging to one of the security agencies knocked her down and killed her on the spot.Cynthia is not the first as many others have either sustain various degress of injuries,or  lost their lives in similar circumstances while others have remained crippled.

  One way driving or wrong-way driving (WWD) is defined by WIKEPEDIA as the act of driving a motor vehicle against the direction of traffic. It can occur on either one- or two-way roads (in the latter case, arising from driving on the wrong side of the road), as well as in parking lots and parking garages, and may be due to driver inattention or impairment, or because of insufficient or confusing road markings or signage, or a driver from a right-hand traffic country being unaccustomed to driving in a left-hand traffic country, and vice versa. People intentionally drive in the wrong direction because they missed an exit, for thrill-seeking, as a suicide attempt, or as a shortcut.

On a divided highway, especially freeway, WWD is a serious problem because of the high speeds usually involved, since the result is more likely a head-on collision. In the United States, about 355 people are killed each year in crashes caused by drivers headed in the wrong direction on the highway. Given an average of 265 fatal WWD crashes, 1.34 fatalities per WWD fatal crash can be calculated. The significance of these kind of crashes is corroborated when this number is compared to the fatalities per fatal crash rate of 1.10 for all other crash types, which translates to 24 more fatalities per 100 fatal crashes for WWD crashes than for fatal crashes in general. Most drivers who enter a divided highway or ramp in the wrong direction correct themselves by turning around

Depending on the jurisdiction, WWD is a punishable offense. In

Efforts to reduce wrong-way driving[ One of the aims of highway engineering is to reduce wrong-way driving.

National Transportation Safety Board’s Highway Special Investigation Report

This topic of safety has gained renewed attention in the recent years in the United States. In doing so, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) published a special investigation report about wrong-way driving in which relevant safety countermeasures to prevent wrong-way collisions on high-speed, divided highways are identified. One important part of this report is Section 4 which provides recommendations for different agencies, including Federal Highway Administration and NHTSA, to address wrong-way collisions.

Wrong-Way Driving Guidebook[edit]

In May 2014, ICT and IDOT published Guidelines for Reducing Wrong-Way Crashes on Freeways. [8] The researchers compiled the guidebook by reviewing previous studies, assessing current practices, and examining national and state design standards and manuals that pertain to WWD. The research team also obtained significant information from the National Wrong-Way Driving Summit hosted by IDOT and SUIE as part of this project in July 2013.

Overview of Wrong-Way Driving Fatal Crashes in the United States[edit]

In August 2014, Institute of Transportation Engineers published a paper to provide an overview of the general trend of WWD fatal crashes in the United States; discuss general characteristics of WWD fatal crashes; and delineate significant contributing factors. [9]

The researchers found an average of 269 fatal crashes resulting in 359 deaths occurred annually in the United States during an 8-year period covering the years 2004 through 2011. It was found that Texas, California, and Florida account for the highest number of WWD fatal crashes and fatalities and represent almost one-third of the national totals.

ATSSA’s wrong-way driving executive summary[edit]

The American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA), in February 2014, published a document titled “Emerging Safety Countermeasures for Wrong-way Driving” that was developed in the framework of an executive summary of various case studies that aim at providing transportation practitioners with a good understanding of WWD incidents and emerging safety countermeasures. In addition to bringing available information together in one document, contacts were suggested for each case study to help readers get at least additional the complementary information about each countermeasure they are considering

Driving against traffic, popularly called one-way driving which we in FRSC call route violation, attracts 5 points and a penalty fine of N5000.It refers to the contravention of the provision of any traffic law or regulation relating to directions and routes to be followed by vehicles e.g. facing on-coming vehicles or plying route prohibited for certain categories of vehicles. It  is a global menace but not as pronounced as in our clime, where it has become a common practice especially among commercial bus drivers. Daily people like Cynthia have been killed or maimed by vehicles moving against the traffic. This infraction   is more common during traffic gridlock when there is heavy traffic on one lane thereby prompting the impatient and irresponsible   drivers to illegally divert to the lane of oncoming vehicles. . It is common to see these deviant drives furiously and recklessly   mainly because they are conscious of their irresponsible and disgraceful driving .These irresponsible drivers are often guilty of hit and run like in the case cited in this piece. Ironically, VIPs,   and some security operatives who should lead by examples are also guilty of this terrible offence. To curb these madness, the National Road Traffic Regulations provides a penalty of N5000 which in my personal view is grossly inadequate even though some might argue that increased penalty merely provides grounds for law enforcement operatives to enrich themselves.

 But I still maintain that increased penalty complimented by the implementation of the penalty point system which will result in drivers’ license withdrawal or suspension will deter this ugly trend. I recall vividly the noble intervention of former Lagos State Governor and now Honorable Minister of Works,Babatunde Fasola  in its traffic laws prescribed a psychiatry test for defaulters  in addition to paying the stipulated fine. I know of the provision of the Federal Road Safety Establishment Act, 2007 which in section 20 which says that a person who causes the death of another person by the driving of a motor vehicle on the highway dangerously or recklessly shall be guilty of an offence and be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7years.In section 21(1)it further says that a person who drives a motor vehicle on a highway dangerously or recklessly shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction of a fine of N50000 or to imprisonment or a term not exceeding two years or to both such fines and imprisonment. The Corps should reinvigorate its show of shame campaign which could take the expand to allow

members of the public take pictures of such irresponsible act and upload on any of the social media platform, displaying the number plates of the vehicle to aid further prosecution.

 But while I am conscious of these provisions, I must salute the examples of Lagos which has tinkered with various strategies to curb this trend. These ranges from increasing the fine from N50000 to 250000 , a psychiatric test, compulsory two weeks driving course and evidence of tax clearance certificate as proof that you’ve paid your tax .The Lagos State example I believe should be emulated by other State government including Governors in the South South whose buy in I hope to convass when I seek audience with them on areas of collaboration.

Wrong way driving has its consequences. Not many people are conscious of the look left, look right and left .Cynthia failed to do that because she was sure no sane driver will route drive. She like many others fell victim and ended her dreams and aspirations. Driving against the traffic can result in head-on crashes with oncoming vehicles who might not be expecting vehicles to drive against the traffic, confusion for motorists scrambling to avoid having collision with such vehicles driving.

The book, ROAD RAGE AND AGGRESSIVE DRIVING by Leon James and Diane Nahl captures these deviants. I think it is madness. I don’t know what you think but I maintain that it is pure madness to drive against traffic. Merriam –Webster defines madness as behavior or thinking that is very foolish or dangerous; a state of severe mental illness. Wikipedia says insanity, craziness or madness is a spectrum of behaviors characterized by certain abnormal metal or behavioral patterns. Insanity may manifest as violations of societal norms, including a person becoming a danger to themselves or others, though not all acts are considered insanity; likewise, not all acts showing indifference towards societal norms are acts of insanity. Madness, according to the Cambridge dictionary is stupid or dangerous behavior. Like my learned colleagues would say, I put it to you that wrong way driving is mad, it is stupid and it is dangerous. –I also put it to you today that rage driving in pure insanity and you must always guard yourself, against such drivers for our own safely. Wrong way driving is pure road rage.

What then is responsible for road rage?  Factors such as traffic congestion, feeling endangered, being insulted, frustration, time pressure, fatigue, competitiveness, and lapses in attention are potential causes. I must add here that  complex or financial austerity are all capable of aggravating this just like the emotional state of the driver borne out of failed marriage, inability to meet up with self centered and overbearing landlords among others can play a great part too.