Speed limiters will help to address some of the challenges posed by speed-induced accidents

Come this Saturday, October 1, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) will commence the enforcement of the speed limiters on commercial vehicles nationwide. This follows several months of interactive sessions with stakeholders in the transport sector and the endorsement of the relevant committees of the National Assembly.

While we hope that the introduction of speed limiters will help to address some of the challenges posed by speed-induced road traffic crashes in the country, we urge the FRSC authorities to intensify its efforts to ensure safety for the Nigerian road users.

As we have argued on this page, the relationship between speed and injury severity is particularly critical for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists. For example, pedestrians have been shown to have a 90 per cent chance of survival when struck by a car travelling at 30km/hr or below, but less than zero per cent chance of surviving an impact at 45km/hr. Pedestrians have almost no chance of surviving an impact of 80km/hr. What this means is that controlling vehicle speed can prevent crashes and can reduce the impact when they do occur, lessening the severity of injuries sustained by the victims.

In some low and middle income countries, speed is estimated to be the main contributory factor in about 50 per cent of all crashes. Excessive speeding decreases driver’s response time in an emergency and may increase the risk of a crash. It equally reduces his ability to manoeuvre safely on the road, extends the distance necessary to stop a vehicle.

This is because, the higher the speed of a vehicle, the shorter the time a driver has to stop and avoid a crash. Speed also contributes to the severity of the impact when a collision does occur. For car occupants in a crash with an impact speed of 80km/hr, the likelihood of death is 20 times what it would have been at an impact speed of 30km/hr.

For instance, the use of speed limiters in many countries, especially in Europe, dates back to February 1992 when a council directive required speed limiters to be fitted in certain categories of vehicles. By November, 2002, the European Parliament and the council directive extended the range of vehicles to be fitted, while in January 2007, it was extended to more categories of vehicles. Within Africa, Tanzania and Kenya followed suit in 2003, while Uganda in 2004, Zambia in 2006 and Ontario and Quebec took their turns in 2009.

At a recent session with major stakeholders in the transport sector, the Corps Marshal and Chief Executive of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Mr. Boboye Oyeyemi identified excessive speed as accounting for most of the road traffic crashes across the country.

Boboye’s presentation also grouped loss of control, tyre burst and dangerous driving which are directly linked to excessive speeding, as major contributive factors to road crashes recorded within the same period thus pointing to speed limit violation as a predominant challenge to collective efforts to stem the tide of avoidable crashes on the highways.

Incidentally, the issue of speed has been identified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a key risk factor in road traffic injuries, influencing both the risk of a crash as well as the severity of the injuries that result from crashes. In fact,the WHO and the Global Road Safety Partnership, in its publication, “Speed Management: a Road Safety Manual for Decision Makers and Practitioners” recommended that speed limits be introduced in every country as part of the global strategy to cut down road fatalities.

As the nation’s lead agency for road safety management and traffic administration, the FRSC believes that installing speed limiting device will help in slowing down vehicles, reduce the number of collisions and mitigate the severity of those that do occur.