Between MADD  and FADD

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Candy Lightner of Mothers against drunk driving (MADD) and Rochelle Sobel   of The Association for Safe International Road Travel are two mothers whose contributions have shaped road safety culture globally. Like every grieving mother, Lightner and Rochelle could have chosen to grief for life. They could equally have chosen to blame government failure or perhaps hate the driver that caused them pain. The Almighty God could even have been placed on judgment seat to explain why? Instead, they chose to stand and be counted. I have paid credence to their sad stories and blazing trail globally.

This piece is not about both mothers although the roads they have travelled to ensure no mother suffers the same trauma and anguish prompted me to do this piece hoping that it will provoke the menfold into active involvement in road safety advocacies meant to project a safer culture in our clime. Every parent’s role is to protect their children. Rochelle and Lightner could not protect theirs, yet they choose to protect others.  This I believe should be the commitment of every father not just to grief but to do something to save other children from the same tragedy.

 I don’t know if you are a father or mother. I also do not know if you have ever lost a loved one in any of these avoidable road traffic crashes which are majorly traceable to human errors such as excessive speeding, tyre blowout, fatigue, dangerous driving, distraction as a result of use of phone while driving or other impaired driving behaviors, I have lost friends too. These losses did not consign me to a sadist but challenged my commitment to doing more to saving lives. I know that mothers suffer most when loved ones are lost but I believe that men should play more active roles in safety rather than being docile. Men should take the drivers seats to help incite others to action. They should kick a few pebbles, turn a few stones, and eventually have an avalanche of fathers who have chosen to say no to bad and irresponsible driving according to Candy Lightner.

 I don’t know if you have been following the numerous consultations between the Federal Road Safety Corps led by the Corps Marshal, Dr Boboye Oyeyemi with two big time players in the transport sector fleet operators such as Dangote and Peace Mass Transit. I am sure you are conversant with the reasons for these numerous consultations occasioned by the increasing spate of road traffic crashes involving these two fleet operations and the need to checkmate bad practices and project best practices. In the recent meeting held with Peace Mass Transit, the FRSC helmsman fired with all arsenals when he expressed his worry over these trends and challenged the Management of the company to immediately put in place structures to safeguard lives and properties. He noted that between January 2015 to December 2015, 8 crashes were recorded by the Company’s drivers involving 62 casualties resulting in 7 deaths and, 55 injured. This figure sharply increased   between last year and January to June this year when 11 crashes were recorded within six months of the year involving 95 casualties out of which 37 were killed while 58 were injured.

The irony is that Peace Mass Transit blazed the trail in the use of speed limiters, and in the annual certification programme which requires fleet operators to present their vehicles and drivers as well as open their premises for inspection and certification by FRSC. since its inception in 2007, the Road Transport Standardisation Scheme (RTSSS0 has registered 1,938 fleet operators, inspected terminals of 5,625 fleet operators and certified 3,704 fleet operators in its annual fleet certification exercise, while over 2,541 fleet operators’ safety managers have been trained. over 5,000 drivers of fleet operators have been certified while 642 convoy drivers of the Nigeria governors were trained under the scheme. Peace Mass Transit Limited is registered with the scheme right from the inception and has been participating in the annual certification exercise introduced by the Commission through the Road Transport Safety Standardisation Scheme (RTSSS) which was launched in 2007 as an intervention strategy for ensuring professionalism in road transport management in accordance with the FRSC Establishment Act 2007. yet the company post these disturbing crash record. The National Road Traffic Regulations (NRTR) 2012 enacted by the FRSC deals with specific challenges of road safety. Regulation 198 (1) specifically states that all road transport operators who engage in inter-state road transport services shall establish a safety unit and appoint a safety officer as the head of the unit who shall ensure that operational standards are maintained as prescribed in the regulation.

 The challenge for operators like Peace Mass Transit according to my boss, is for them to put safety measures such as having competent safety manager/assistants in all its terminals and presenting its drivers for recertification as required by law, ensure that its terminals are made conducive for smooth operations and that provision for emergency vehicles is made by the Company. The Company should present all its drivers and vehicles for recertification and safety audit by the FRSC while its safety managers must ensure that the speed limiters installed in their vehicles are not tempered with by the drivers.

 Although the company has assured the Corps that safety measures such as installation of speed limiting device, avoidance of overloading, insistence on regular retraining of the drivers and ensuring routine checks on the vehicle are key priorities. Fathers must become watchers of these commitments for the safety of their wards through the codename,Fathers against dangerous driving