Is Phoning Behind The Wheels Insanity?


The use of phone while driving is one of the traffic infractions listed by the Federal Road Safety Corps for mental/psychological evaluation expected to have commenced July 1, 2017.Our traffic lexicon defines phoning behind the wheels as driving or riding a vehicle while making use of phone even at traffic hold up. This also applies to use of hands free devices. This infraction carries five penalty points and a fine of N4, 000.

I promised to run through these infractions weekly looking at their implications and that is why I have chosen to run this piece I wrote almost three years ago even before the present Corps Marshal, Dr Boboye Oyeyemi, took over the mantle of leadership as the pilot of the Corps. I trust it will make a good reading – I know that driving behind the wheels is insanity. I think it is madness. I don’t know what you think but I maintain that it is pure madness to step on the wheels and accelerate above the approve speed limit like a good number do. It is even madder, if you will allow the use, to indulge on excessive speeding, dialing, texting, browsing and pinging among some other vices, maiming, killing and injuring innocent souls. These driving traits are mostly responsible for our road traffic crash profile. I know some readers would dismiss my view as unfounded. I know I, not a psychiatrist.

Some would even ask me for scientific proofs to conclude that motorists who drive and phone are insane or mad as if that would change their irresponsible driving. For such people, they can rest on the findings of the Transport Laboratories in the United Kingdom, which says that a man phoning behind the wheels is worse than one who has taken alcohol above the approve limit. I just hope that my former boss, Osita Chidoka, the immediate past Corps Marshal of the FRSC and Minister of the Aviation Ministry, still shares my take, I recall sometime in 2007 just shortly after his first appointment, when I approached him to sound him out on my plans to compel some motorists to psychiatrist test at the National Hospital here in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory to check  the increasing cases of distracted driving in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja as Sector Commander, FCT. That encounter remains ever fresh in my memory as it afforded me an opportunity to know my new boss well. In his usual mein, when I approached on the subject, to get his buy in on the need for this novel strategy, he merely buried his head in the files on his table. Since time was of the essence, I fired straight like Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez would for Arsenal my favorite team in the UK Premiership League, saying that   I believe strongly that people who commit such insanity are insane. My joy knew no bounds when he replied in his usual style of listening and not talking that he shares my views. A week later when I went to him for confirmation, I was still overwhelmed when he quietly said, please Jonas, go on and do what you plan to as I still share your views.

That singular discussion led to the over 316motorists in the FCT who were arrested and compelled to go for psychiatric test or evaluation at the National Hospital,Abuja.Of that number,16 were found to be mentally unstable; meaning something that needed some further testing was missing. Even though further test or review done three weeks after found them clean, it did not and has not changed my views on these set of motorists. And if we allow the wisdom of defensive driving to guide us in this discussion, it simply sums up that every motorist on the road is mad and that your safety should depend on you and not on the madman. Merriam –Webster defines madness as behavior or thinking that is very foolish or dangerous; a state of severe mental illness. Wikipedia says insanity, craziness or madness is a spectrum of behaviors characterized by certain abnormal metal or behavioral patterns. Insanity may manifest as violations of societal norms, including a person becoming a danger to themselves or others, though not all acts are considered insanity; likewise, not all acts showing indifference towards societal norms are acts of insanity. Madness, according to the Cambridge dictionary is stupid or dangerous behavior. Like my learned colleagues would say, I put it to you that phoning behind the wheels is mad, it is stupid and it is dangerous. -,it then follows that we must always guard against such drivers for our own safely. What is texting while driving? According to WIKIPEDIA, texting while driving is the act of composing, sending reading texting massages, and email or making other similar use of web on the mobile phone while operating a motor vehicle. This act is dangerous and has caused fatal crashes globally, the act has outlawed in some part of the world or restricted. In the United Kingdom, the use of a hand-held mobile or similar the device while driving or supervising a leaner is illegal. This include when stop at traffic light the only expecting are emergency calls testing while driving has been out been Lawed in good number of state in the Unite State such as Arisoma, Alaska, Alaeama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Louisiana and Maryland, among others the state of Texas prohibit school bus drivers from testing while transporting a child under 17 years on October 2009 the United state department of transportation announce  president Barak Obama signing of an executive order directing federal employee not to engaged in text massage while driving government owned vehicle. 

These according to the department send clear signer American public that distracted driving is dangerous and unacceptable. On January 26th 2010 the department announces a federal ban protesting while driving trucker and bus driver. Testing while driving led to increases destruction behind the wheel in 2006 Liberty Mutual Insurance Group conducted a survey of more than 90 teens from than 26 high schools. The result sow that 37 percent consider testing to be “or extremely” distracting. A studying by the American Unto mobile association discover that 47 percent of teens admitted to been distracted behind the wheel because of test. Distracting while is alarming because 40 percent of all AMERCA teens say they have been in a car when the driver uses a cell phone in way that put in danger. 11pecrt of age 18 -20 who where involved in a crash and some admitted they send or relieving text when they crashed. In 2010 the national high way traffic safety administration reported drivers distraction was the coursed of 18 per cent of fatal crashes with 3,092 people killed and 416,000 people injured. The risk of crashing while testing increase by 23% because reading or sending text diverts the driver eye from the road for an average of 4.6 second the same as driving the lend of a foot ball flied, blend at 55 mph although taking on the phone while driving is considered dangerous the risk increase as short message service or testing because popular. Many studies have linked texting while driving to series of fatal crashes. The International “Telecommunication Union states that texting, making calls and other interaction  with in-vehicle information and communication systems while driving is a serious source of driver distraction and increases the risk of traffic crashes. The Virginia Transportation institute found out that text massaging increases a crash risk 23 time worse than driving while not distracted. Even the use of hands free according to the transport research laboratory, makes drivers four times more likely to have an accident, concentration level reduced for 10 minutes after the call had ended. The report also showed that drivers making hand free calls had slower reaction times than those who were slightly over the drink limit.


n the United Kingdom, around 30 deaths on the roads each year are linked to mobile phone use even though the royal society for the prevention accident (ROSPA) believes this is “just the tip of the iceberg” because so few drivers admit to using mobile phone when they cause crashes involving distracted driving injured more than half a million people in 2008 in the United State of American deadly driving habits kill nearly 6000 American a year, according NHTSH. Car crashes are the leading Killer of youth in American – they kill an average of 11 teens each day. As United State secretary of transportation, Ray Lahood says, “the mother who lost children, the children who lost mother. You want no part of that kind of lost” Talking on the phone while driving causes as much impairment as drunk driving its like driving after you have taken four bottles of beer and if you are texting while driving, you are 23 times as likely to get into a crash. In the US nearly a third of all crashes are either talking or texting. Studies have shown that drivers who use their cell phone for talking texting have much slower response times than those who do not. They also have slower reaction times than people with blood alcohol levels of 0.08. Studies have also shown that people who talk and drive at the same time are four times likely to crash. Those who text and drive are 20 times more likely to have an accident. While the danger of phoning or texting behind the wheels is undisputed, laws that ban texting while driving have not reduced the number of crashes across four states in the US. According to a study, but a slight increase in road accident has been recorded.


he highway loss data institute compared the insurance claims in four states of California, Louisiana, Minnesota and Washington before and after the texting ban, with those in nearby states that don’t have these laws. After the bans, crash patterns varied from one percent more in Minnesota, and the largest crash increase of 12 per cent after the texting ban was among young driver in California. The researches have calculated rate of collision claims for vehicles up to nine years old during the months before and after driver texting was banned.


The study shows crashes have increase in three states after the bans were enacted, which indicates that bans could increase the risk of crashing for drivers who continue to text despite the laws. The study notes non compliance as the key reason for the increase in crashes as young drivers among 18-24 years are most likely to text with 45 per cent saying they do so in states that ban texting. It pointed out that the bans are ineffective as 48 per cent of drivers admitted to texting in the state without bans.


Before I continue, please allow me to once again refer you to the finding of an FRSC commissioned attitudinal survey on motorists. Like I said in an earlier piece the study was conducted in 2013 by NOIPolls to do a road attitudinal survey across 6 locations in Nigeria. To measure the level of compliance on the road, the survey was conducted across pre identify corridors within 9hrs of the day in (morning, noon and evening) for 12 days. The observation monitored the following:  lane discipline, seatbelt/ crash helmet compliance, compliance to overloading rules, traffic light /road signs obedience and the number plate usage.


he survey was carried out in 6 locations. Abuja, Lagos, Owerri, Benin, Kaduna, and Gombe. The survey was conducted via observational study.6 corridors in total selected by the clients were observed across all locations and 6b extra corridors were added by NOIPolls, given a total of 12 corridors observed. Observation was done by 8:30 am – 5:30 pm daily for 5 days. A total of 70,180 vehicles/ bikes were observed across all 6 locations with 29,482 on the highway, and 40,698 on township roads. A total of vehicle/bikes observed by location were 13,426 in Abuja, 11,503 in gombe, 11,903 in owerri, 7936 in benin, 10,435 in lagos, and 14,977 in Kaduna. The findings of the survey indicate that 90% of the total observed vehicles/bikes adhered to mobile phone usage rules while driving. Gombe (24%) recorded the highest proportion of drivers/riders that used mobile phones while driving.The highest proportion of drivers/riders that were seen using mobile phones while driving was recorded on Sunday (13%) and Bicycle riders (22%) were the most seen using mobile phones while driving. A breakdown of the survey indicated that in Abuja The vast majority (97%) of observed drivers/riders were not using mobile phones while driving. 19% of drivers/riders observed on Sunday were seen using mobile phones while driving and the highest proportion of drivers/riders seen using mobile phones while driving were drivers of VW brand cars (8%).The report for Gombe indicates that 24% of the total observed driver/rider in Gombe were seen using mobile phones while driving, with the highest recorded on Sunday (33%). Truck drivers (26%), Bicycles riders (26%) and VW brand car drivers (25%) were most observed to be using mobile phones while driving.