The Ember Months Rhyme

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Bennett  Oghifo

Did you read the first part last week? Did you enjoy the song which I strongly believe is a must sing for all the speed freaks. Like my friend told me, this Yoruba rhyme about life and death should sober those of us who drive as if we have a spare life tucked somewhere inside the freezer. The same is applicable to those who hold the belief that the Ember months are tragedy proned; some describe it as dangerous. Others say it is evil. Truth is that the Ember months are like other months but with increased activity and associated risks due to irresponsible driving to meet realistic and unrealistic targets

Last week I cited the WHO Global Status report on road Safety 2013.The report further states that another 20 to 50 million sustain non- fatal injuries through crashes. These injuries and deaths have an immeasurable impact on the families affected and their communities. Road traffic injuries are estimated to be the eighth leading cause of death globally, with an impact similar to that caused by diseases, such as malaria and remain the leading cause of death for young people aged 15–29years, and as a result take a heavy toll on those entering their most productive years. Yearly, 400,000 people under the ages of 25 years die at an average of more than 1000 a day. These deaths are more in low and middle income countries among vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclist, motorcyclist and those using public transport. Speeding remains the single most common traffic violations and explains why the Federal Road Safety Corps has fixed 1st Oct 2016 as deadline for enforcement of speed limiters in vehicles beginning with commercial vehicles. The use of phone while driving, dangerous driving, unlicensed and under aged driving are also prevalent violations, in addition to lane indiscipline among others. WHO identifies three risks factors; Speed, drink driving, seat belt, distracted driving and wearing of motorcycle helmet correctly which can reduce the risk of death by almost 40% and the risk of severe injury by over 70%.I hope to dwell on this three as a guide to the choice you make each time you drive- choice to live or die. I know that the suicide driven motorists don’t care about the speed limit of 100km/ph.They think government through the FRSC is nuts to post speed limits and restrict their freedom.

They reason, that since car manufactures fix maximum speed of vehicles at almost 280km/h and since the car belongs to them, therefore they are at liberty to drive at whatever speed they choose to. We are however cautioned and told that excessive speed kills. Research has it that an increase in average speed is directly related both to the likelihood of a crash occurring and to the severity of the consequences of the crash. So if you love life, you should at every time keep to the speed limit of 100km/h which is the maximum speed on the expressway for private cars and 90km/h for taxis and buses. The same applies to driving within build up areas such as schools,markets,commercial and busy areas; the speed limit here is further reduced to between 20-50km/h .You must at every time be guided by this rules and not by the supposed programmed events for the day. Some other facts on speed states that pedestrians have a greater chance of surviving a car crash at 30 km/h or below.30 km/h. speed zones can reduce the risk of a crash and are recommended in areas where vulnerable road users are common such as residential areas and around schools

One of the hallmarks of the Ember season is the increase in merriment such as weddings, house warming and chieftaincy title ceremonies among others. You will be correct if you describe the Ember season as chop- chop season; a season where driving under the influence is a vogue especially among the male motorists-for some this driving habit is to them, an ego tripping tendency. Truth however is that driving under the influence kills faster than you can imagine. Drinking and driving increases both the risk of a crash and the likelihood that death or serious injury will result. The risk of being involved in a crash increases significantly above a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.04 g/dl. Enforcing sobriety checkpoints and random breath testing, like we do, can lead to reductions in alcohol-related crashes of about 20% and have been shown to be very cost-effective.

I know the seat belt culture has been quite commendable especially when dealing with front seat passenger and driver, I am however piqued when I see such occupants in a vehicle where the back seat occupants refuses to be belted on the grounds that seat belt enforcement for rear seat passengers is not yet an infraction .Seat-belts and child restraints wearing a seat-belt reduce the risk of a fatality among front-seat passengers by 40–50% and of rear-seat passengers by between 25–75%.The mandatory seat-belt laws r enforcement has been very effective at increasing seat-belt wearing rates and reducing deaths in the country. It then follows that if total compliance is achieved through enforcement and enlightenment, our crash record could improve better; if correctly installed and used. Child restraints on the other hand reduce deaths among infants by approximately 70% and deaths among small children by between 54% and 80%.

The distracted driving bug has since caught up with us. Although there are many types of distractions that can lead to impaired driving, the use of mobile phones by drivers ranks high and has become a road safety concern in Nigeria. The distraction caused by mobile phones impairs driving performance through longer reaction times (notably braking reaction time, but also reaction to traffic signals).It also impairs ability to keep in the correct lane, and shorter following distances. Text messaging or on the wheel browsing also results in considerably reduced driving performance. Drivers using a mobile phone are approximately four times more likely to be involved in a crash than drivers who do not use a phone. Hands-free phones and hand-held phone sets poses same risk.