On 12th December, 2016, I had the rare privilege to attend an International Workshop and launch of the Global Forum for Road Safety Legislators held at the prestigious Queen Elizabeth 11 Centre Westminster, London. It was a gathering of Parliamentarians from across the globe, including Parliamentarians from Nigeria, Tanzania and Egypt in addition to participants from the World Health Organization, (WHO) and Towards Zero Foundation who jointly organized the programme among others. Despite not being a legislator, or even an aspiring legislator to be, it was truly a rare privilege courtesy of my boss, Dr Boboye Oyeyemi, who conscripted me to attend
The Global Forum for Road Safety Legislators was established following the 2nd Global High Level Conference on Road Safety hosted by the Government of Brazil on 18-19 November 2015 in Brasilia. The Forum serves as an open platform to exchange best practices in road safety policies and law-making, and to encourage more countries to adopt comprehensive and effective road safety strategies consistent with the aims of the UN Decade of Action for Road safety 2011-2020 and the Global Goals for Sustainable Development.
The terms of reference includes providing a platform for legislators serving in national and regional parliaments, city, and local authorities, responsible for road safety to share priorities and exchange best practices to promote a world eventually free from road fatalities and serious injuries; encourage UN Member States to adopt comprehensive road safety strategies and laws in support of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 3.6 and 11.2, and the target to halve road traffic deaths and injuries by 2020;To encourage the development of All-Party Friends of Road Safety Groups in parliamentary bodies to promote the legislative priorities of the UN Decade of Action and the SDGs and lastly to establish a Steering Committee for the Global Forum including road safety legislators representing all major world regions (North America, South America, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia/Pacific), and to organize an Annual Meeting to discuss road safety legislations.
Participants expressed worry at the present state of crashes globally despite measures put in place. They noted that the launch is very important as an opportunity to bring legislators together to share common concern on cross party and nonparty lines. They noted that the task before all was to encourage implementation of policy and goals to achieve the UN goals of road traffic crash reduction, noting that solid policy and laws are required to achieve this. They called for the need to close the existing gaps, stressing that leadership is key as effective road safety laws can deliver better results such as the law on seat belt has done for the UK.
They also stressed that Road safety should be a source of unity among legislators, who must collaborate to increase the needed momentum and raise awareness. These laws are necessary in keeping with the UN 5 pillars and the need for legislative actions on areas such as vehicle, quality of roads, and trauma care. They noted the need for the safe system Approach which recognizes that 70 percent of road trauma is from people making mistakes and not risk takers.
It called for policy rebalancing in favor of safe system with political leadership being a key ingredient; need to communicate differently to politicians and the people.
PAs we slowly draw closer to the UN Decade of Action,2020 deadline, I will be interested in seeing how a stronger platform can be built among politicians and Parliamentarians not just at the National levels but how state Parliamentarians can be brought to play crucial roles especially in view of the Corps concerted effort to encourage states to establish road traffic management agency.I will no doubt be interested in progress made on the National Road Safety Strategy which remains the antidote to all that has been missing in the country drive to cut down crashes. Every time I recall the progress made thus far, my mind flashes to series of discussions I had with my then supervising officer, Babagana Ibrahim, Deputy Corps Marshal rtd, when we both worked at the Zonal headquarters in Kaduna in 2008.Whenever we discussed progress made since 1988, we unanimously concurred that the absence of a policy document that spells out specific roles for agencies, and groups driven by government is all that is needed.
2017 according to my boss is the year for speed limiter enforcement. In 2016, the campaign took off with awareness and subtle enforcement with February 2017 set as the deadline for full enforcement. I will keep you updated with progress in the Zone, comprising Rivers, Cross Rivers,Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa States in addition to events across the country as my boss makes known. One of my greatest desires has been to serialize the revised Highway Code hoping that it will add to a freshness of the column and hopefully raise a higher level of safety awareness necessary to support the drive to bring down road traffic crashes in the country. I do hope my editors will give me the needed support to do this.
While all these efforts will form the core of my road map for 2017, I will endeavor also to rehash salient issues that are worrisome risk factors such as non use of seat belt by rear seat occupants. As at date despite successes recorded in the compulsory use of seat belt, we are yet to commence enforcement on seat belt usage by rear seat occupants.