Still on Change in Traffic Behaviour

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Their brief was very brief. It was the same brief, the same routine, the same assignment. It has been the same since they assumed work barely few years ago. The brief was for them to conduct a mobile Court, embark on a special patrol to check recalcitrant road traffic violators, focusing on very critical traffic violations responsible for avoidable road traffic crashes; and educate them on the dangers of such driving habits. With excitement, they took off with their other team members backed up by operatives from the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps and the Nigerian Police. The operations was going smooth as envisaged on the Gusau –Talata- Mafara road until the unexpected happened –a driver who was flagged down for an infraction refused to stop, increased his speed ran over the members-leading to the death of three road safety staff and one operatives of  the Nigerian security and Civil Defence Corps.

 Their death brings the total death this year to about thirty nine according to my boss,Dr Boboye Oyeyemi,who daily laments the increasing cases of casualties affecting operatives. The story is the same for the Nigerian military which daily mourn the loss of theirs in the course of defending our territorial borders. Other agencies have suffered similar fate. Globally, officer dreams are cut short in the line of duty which is the hazard of the job. I however shudder on why a supposedly sane driver will knowingly and deliberately run down his fellow brother down just because he was asked to pull over for a routine check which might just result in public enlightenment or a ticket depending on the infractions. As at today, the highest fine is fifty thousand Naira (N50, 000).No matter the level of economic challenges in the land due to recession, there is no justification for a man on the wheels to run over a soul under any guise. Reports from other climes paint similar or even worse tragedy.

 Let us look at the United States where according to FBI records fifty-one- law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty in 2014. An additional 44 police officers were killed accidentally, with most of the deaths occurring in the Southern region of the US. Most of the criminal fatalities were from firearms, while the accidental deaths were largely the result of car accidents.

 The statistics show an 89 percent increase over the 27 officers killed in 2013. Broken down into regions – 17 were killed in the South, 14 in the West, eight in the Midwest, eight in the Northeast, and four in Puerto Rico. The 51 officers died from injuries sustained in 48 separate incidents.

Of the criminal deaths, 46 of the 51 were the result of the use of firearms. Handguns accounted for 32 deaths, with 11 incidents involving the use of rifles and three with shotguns. Four police officers were killed by vehicles and one officer was killed by an offender’s use of hands, fists, or feet.The incidents that led up to the officers deaths involved answering disturbance calls, conducting traffic stops or pursuits, ambushes, investigating a suspicious person, during investigations, and handling persons with mental illness.Five of the 51 officers killed had fired their own weapons and six attempted to use their guns. One was killed with his own weapon, seven had theirs stolen and 35 died while wearing body armor

There were fewer accidental deaths in 2014 than in 2013, however. Of the 44 officers who died in 2014, compared to 49 in 2013, 28 died in automobile accidents (15 were wearing their seatbelts), six in motorcycle accidents, and five were struck by vehicles. Accidental shootings took two lives, and three others died in separate incidents of drowning, blunt force trauma and smoke inhalation. The FBI said statistics from 1980-2014 show an average of 64 law enforcement officers are killed criminally per year. Last year’s 27 deaths marked the lowest record during a 35-year period.

 Seat belts save lives. It can’t be put simpler than that.  Seatbelts have been adjudged to be the most effective traffic safety device for the prevention of death and injury in the event of a crash.  Wearing a seat belt can reduce risk of crash injuries by fifty percent, according to the Global National Safety Council.In Nigeria, when the issue of seatbelt is raised, our minds immediately run to front seat occupants.

  It is a general consensus that seatbelts are basically for those in front. Come to think of it, it has been a widely-held belief that seatbelt use is just a necessary nuisance to avoid the greater nuisance of being stopped by an over-zealous Road Safety Official. But that is a far cry from the truth. A seatbelt is designed to protect the occupants of a vehicle against any dangerous movement in the event of a crash or sudden stop.  A seatbelt reduces the severity or even the possibility of an injury in a crash by preventing the occupants from colliding with interior elements of the vehicle or other passengers. 

 It keeps occupants positioned correctly for maximum safety, and prevents them from being ejected from the vehicle.Yet,disregard for these life saver is pronounced among all the sexes, ages and vocations as motorists indulge in educating you on when and where they think it is compulsory for them to buckle. Some even mock for leaving our core mandate to disturb on what some describe as frivolities

 Traffic injuries alone are the leading cause of death among children 15-19years and the second leading cause among 10-14 years old.These injuries are not inevitable.They are preventable.Statistics from traffic management agencies and groups in developed countries reveal percentage of severity of injuries of deaths resulting from non-use of seatbelts in the event of a crash or a sudden stop.  In the United Kingdom, out of the 1,432 car occupants killed in 2007, 34% had not belted up.  An estimated 565 people were not using seatbelt when killed in 2005. 370 would have probably survived if they had been properly restrained. We need to sustain the culture of buckling up for all occupants at all time on the road including use of child restraints for children