Sometimes last year, I had the rare privilege as the Zonal Commanding Commanding Officer Zone 7, comprising the Federal Capital Territory Abuja and Niger State to be conscripted by my boss,Dr Boboye Oyeyemi,the Corps Marshal to the Federal Road Safety team to a Public Hearing seating at the National Assembly presided over by the House of Representatives Committee on Road Safety. The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Raji Fashola was also invited to the hearing.
During his presentation, the Minister who as Governor of Lagos State demonstrated his disdain for traffic infractions proposed communal service as punishment for traffic infractions. His concern was that traffic fines are yet to drive home the needed change required. He therefore reasoned that communal or community service where traffic offenders are compelled to undertake community service such as cleaning drainages or sweeping public places will go a long way in deterring people from irresponsible driving. His proposal sounded different from the usual position people like me canvass which is always on increased fines. This position is the similar to what countries like the United Kingdom tow always. Just last December, the Transport Minister, Andrew Jones during a gathering of Parliamentarians on road safety in London said a new fine regime was being introduced to curb driving and phoning violation. While I still hold rigidly to my views that increased fines will do the magic just like Lagos has done, I have however had cause to do a rethink on his stand pondering on the novelty of such punishments. Will it bring about the needed change or should it be targeted at which driving offences; the trivial to severe or to all? For the records, I must state here that in other climes, everything from driving without a seatbelt to drunk driving can result in penalty points on your license, a hefty fine or even jail time. Whether it’s a speeding ticket through the letterbox or a court summons for something more serious and this explains why I am still marveling at the Lagos State novelty especially the jail term angle. The reason for my excitement is very simple-human beings are almost the same world over. The same applies to drivers irrespective of the color of the skin or the sex or even age. What deters the average driver in developed climes is the fact that infractions are not treated with kid gloves as you can end up in jail or lose your right to drive based on what is regarded as cumulative penalty points.
It is therefore key to understand the penalties for driving offences to promote safer driving. The National Road Traffic Regulations contains all these traffic violations meant to deter drivers from committing offences.This write is therefore a must read for every licensed driver. Although the penalty point system is not fully implemented as is obtainable in countries such as the United Kingdom, I will no doubt start with the definition of what some basic terms are. First is the penalty point which refers to Points allotted to traffic offences accumulated in the driver’s record? If a driver receives a statutorily maximum number of points, the driver shall be warned and or have his licence suspended or withdrawn. FINE: Is payment of a sum of money made to satisfy a claim of an offence committed as penalty. WARNING: Is notification issued to a traffic offender who has accumulated 10 – 14 penalty points. SUSPENSION: Is the temporal removal or interruption of authority or right to drive a vehicle or ride a motorcycle/tricycle, as a punishment for a period of time, having accumulated 15 to 20 penalty points. WITHDRAWAL: The act or condition of taking away the authority or the denial of the right to drive a motor vehicle or ride a motorcycle/tricycle on Nigeria roads, having accumulated 21 and above penalty points.
The second definition is on the USE OF NOTICE OF OFFENCE SHEET The Notice of Offence sheet is issued by a Road Marshal to a traffic offender who has violated any of the Road Traffic Laws and Regulations. It is a legal document and as such should be properly understood and filled, as it may be tendered in the law court for prosecution purposes.
Having defined these terms as a guide let me now focus on the Notice of offences which contains thirty-seven specific traffic offences. These numbers are not restrictive as they can either increase or decrease depending on that the traffic regulations provide at a time. It is your responsibility to know and understand these offences and to daily strive not to run foul of any .In dealing with the offences, you will get to know the offences, their categories, definitions, penalties and penalty points: Since specific infractions have become the norm, I think it will be appropriate to look at offences such as speeding, use of phone while driving, seat belt related offences, drivers license and vehicle paper offences, in addition to assaulting marshals on duty among others.
Let me first begin with the corporate offences that relates to companies such as construction companies and hospitals. This is because quite often these two constitute hindrances to our operations. For some years running, hospital that should complement our rescue efforts often frustrate our rescue team by rejecting road traffic crash victims on flimsy excuse such as the absence of beds for victims and in some cases they insist on the payment of specified sums before the admission of the victims. Although there is a measure of improvement in this direction, there are still some bottlenecks and that is why I have chosen to start with the MEDICAL PERSONNEL/HOSPITAL REJECTION OF ROAD CRASH VICTIM which carries no points and a fine N50, 000. It refers to Hospital or Medical personnel refusal to accept and administer treatment on Road Crash survivors or accept corpse(s) of victim(s).The fourth is INADEQUATE CONSTRUCTION WARNING SIGN no point with a fine of N50, 000. Failure of a road construction company to provide adequate warning and/or directional/diversion signs at road repairs or road construction sites. CONSTRUCTION AREA SPEED LIMIT VIOLATION which carries 3 points and a fine of N3,000. It refers to the failure to adhere to speed limits posted at construction sites and it is applicable to Construction companies