Driving Hazards to avoid this Season

In less than ten days, the drums will start beating for another Christmas celebration. Some will even roll the red carpets just like we did last Thursday when we gathered during the FRSC End of Year 2016 Management strategy session not to click glasses but to take stock and fine-tune strategies to stop further deaths. Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps,Dr Boboye Oyeyemi,read out the  scorecard as at date, saying’’ so far, at the end of week 47 of 2016, 4,005 deaths were recorded from 7,657 crashes. I wish to, however, point out that our record for the 3rd Quarter 2016 in respect of the 15 percent reduction in road traffic crashes (RTCs) and 25 percent in fatality rate showed that we are making progress in the campaigns. For instance, as at September this year, we have achieved 77.19 percent of the expectation in RTC reduction while 83.33 percent was achieved in respect of fatality rate’’.

 He went on to say that FRSC will not only keep the momentum but further accelerate achievement of goals. But my boss expressed his worry over the killings and maiming of our operatives. ‘’Sadly within the year, we have lost 70 personnel. It is sad to note that some killing and maiming of operatives, including one from a sister agencies in close collaboration with the Corps were in the course of official duties. A recent occurrence was the happening in Talata Mafara, Zamfara State where a motorist ran into the Mobile Court in session killing three operatives almost instantly, while a Civil Defence operatives died later as a result of injuries sustained in the dastardly act’’. So while we daily strive to stop motorists from avoidable deaths; we also weep, mourn and cry over our operatives who are daily run over by supposedly sane drivers.

 I have on several occasions expressed my worry over these driving behaviors including the irresponsible driving habits responsible for deaths during this season. Each time I worry,I however remember  of the major theories of behavior change such as the social cognitive theory which proposes that people are driven not by inner forces, but by external factors. This model suggests that human functioning can be explained by a triadic interaction of behavior, personal and environmental factors often known as reciprocal determinism. Environmental factors represent situational influences and environment in which behavior is preformed while personal factors include instincts, drives, traits, and other individual motivational forces. Since this season of celebration is one period when driving behaviors tend to negate the norms of responsible driving in the name of celebration, I have chosen to look at some of these hazardous behaviors which we must guard against as we move closer to this year’s festivities.

Driving Commuting hurts physically, also affects your mental and psychological health. According to Leon James, co-author of Road Rage and Aggressive Driving: Steering Clear of Highway Warfare, people are not aware of the negative emotions that surge through them while driving. “Driving,” he points out, “is an activity in which you are surrounded by hundreds of people having negative emotions, and the whole system is based on whether it’s cooperative or antagonistic.”The warfare on the highway exposes us to the health hazards known as road rage which refers to an extreme state of anger that often precipitates aggressive behavior. It also refers to words and gestures or to assault and battery. Back home in our clime all of these tendencies are prevalent even though they may not be as pronounced.  Since Shakespeare had warned that you cannot read a man’s mind through his forehead, a drivers good looking corporate mein, his fancy car, age or sex or even his vocation is not enough assurance that the fellow starring at you is not capable of battering you for daring to wrongly overtake him with the weather beaten coffin you call a car.

 What then is responsible for road rage?  There are particular factors that lead to road rage. These factors occur when another driver: uses swearing or name calling, comes to a rolling stop, speeds,  doesn’t signal when changing lanes, makes an illegal turn, follows too closely, goes through a red light and fails to yield. 

 Others include traffic congestion, feeling endangered, frustration caused by the economic challenges, time pressure, fatigue, competitiveness, and lapses in attention. 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.

  Drivers, according to Linda Mackenzie are often being punished by road rage. This compounds the problem by producing road rage in the attacked driver. Road rage retaliation tactics run from yelling and inappropriate gestures to deliberate braking and using a car as a weapon in addition to physical fights and death by shooting. The results of road rage include making driving uncomfortable, impeding traffic flow, creating traffic jams and accidents. The cause of road rage she says can be found within four levels of stress; environmental, nutritional, emotional and physical.

Emotional stress includes too much traffic, inadequate lanes and highways, too many accidents, traffic jams, poisonous toxins emitted by cars (e.g., carbon monoxide and lead). People inhale these poisonous fumes on the road which affect the body and contribute to road rage. 

In the case of nutritional stress,it includes improper/inadequate nutrients which affect proper working of the mind and body, poor diet which may cause nutrient deficiency, too much sugar, alcohol, caffeine, which may cause body imbalance and irritability. Physical stress includes illness, backaches, headaches, side effects of prescription, over the counter which is common among drivers and recreational drugs that may have side effects of drowsiness which reduces alertness 

Emotional stress includes negative emotions (e.g., frustration, anger) , watching and absorbing bad driving behavior from parents, movies, and commercials, Increased stress in daily life. With too much stress people feel they are losing control. The car is a powerful obedient tool, associated with a driver’s emotional ego, and sometimes status. The car gives the driver a direct way to control their environment so that they feel they are gaining some control over their lives.

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