Safe driving Article

Last week I shared with you my concern on the increasing cases of deaths arising from night journey. Specifically I focused on the crash of Thursday 14 September 2017 which occurred along the Lagos- Ibadan express way. In that piece, I listed some of the reasons why the Federal Road Safety Corps has consistently campaigned against night journey even in the face of the challenges’ of barring motorists from their individual choices which are guaranteed by the country’s constitution. For purposes of reminder, I wish to refresh you on the reasons for our continuous campaign against night journey which includes the following; excessive speeding, problem of visibility as it affects night driving and rescue and   epileptic ambulance services among other factors.

Today, I wish to consider some other issues such as the increasing crime rates at night which makes policing our roads a bit problematic. Although I am not competent to speak for the agencies charged with this onerous responsibility, I wish to recall an incident involving a friend of mine who has since repented from the madness called night journey. Before the incident, he was a die- hard advocate for night journey; one who would always speak passionately about night journey and even  taunt me for being too lily- livid  to try night journey despite my counsel against it. According to the story of this friend who I would prefer to call Gbolly,   he boarded a bus from Abuja to Lagos on a faithful Friday as his practice was. A couple of hours after the journey began, he was started from his sleep by gun shots and wailings from commuters. By the time he looked around, it dawned on him there had, run into a robbery trap where they were all dispossessed of their belongings while the female passengers in the bus were picked one after the other by the robbers and sexually assaulted. The experience was so harrowing, according to him that immediately he escaped from the scene, he did not need any preacher to talk him out his dangerous pastime travel habits called night journey. I know there are worse stories but the simple truth is that like rescue during crashes, policing is made a bit easier when you can clearly see the elements you are confronted with.

Beside crime and other criminal activities, one major concern is the increasing issue of driving under the influence which has become the past time of a handful of drivers who most times boast that alcohol beverages enhances their proficiency on the wheels .I don’t want to bore you with the state of commercial vehicles in the face of the increasing economic challenges which has made vehicle maintenance a luxury to some transporters. These vehicles often break down leaving commuters exposed to unnecessary dangers in the face of kidnappers and ritual killers. My focus today is actually to dwell on driving under the influence which is an infraction among drivers both during day and night journeys. The Federal Road Safety Corps records as contained in the 2015 Annual report gives a total of 63 road traffic crashes resulting from driving under the influence. Zone 4 Jos which I presently supervise, comprising Plateau, Benue and Nasarrawa States accounted for 16 cases. Although the breakdown does not distinguish between night and day, I still wish to focus on driving under the influence as a problem. A material I   published a couple of months ago on this column under the heading One for the road;’ ’ONE FOR THE ROAD-THE DESIGNATED DRIVER CAMPAIGN’’ will provide us with necessary information on the dangers of driving under the influence.

That material reads thus; Do you know that alcohol causes nearly 4 percent of deaths worldwide, more than AIDS, tuberculosis or violence, according to the WHO? Do you also know that approximately 2.5 million people die each year from alcohol related causes and that the harmful use of alcohol is especially fatal for younger age groups, while alcohol is the world’s leading risk factor for deaths among males aged 15-59 ?. Do you equally know that alcohol is a causative factor in 60 types of diseases and injuries, according to WHO’s first report on alcohol since 2004. Alcohol consumption has been linked to cirrhosis of the liver, epilepsy, poisoning, road traffic crashes, violence and several types of cancer, including cancer of the colorectum, breast, larynx and liver.

… Drink driving, or what is known globally as impaired driving, is my main focus for this week. Let me first wet your curiosity with certain facts from countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Canada .This detour should help you if you fall into the category of motorists who indulge in ’’one for the road” -this cliché simply translates that even if you have consumed a number of bottles of beverage alcohol, once it is time to travel or drive, you need another extra to help you see clearly and remain alert. Do you know that in 2010 in the UK, nearly 10,000 reported road casualties happened when a driver was over the legal alcohol limit? Do you also know that as a result, 250 people were killed in drink driving accidents?Do you know that in the United States of America, almost half of all drivers who were killed in crashes and tested positive for drugs also had alcohol in their system? Do you know that about one-third of all drivers arrested or convicted of driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence of alcohol are repeat offenders?

Do you know that over 1.41 million drivers were arrested in 2010 for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics?Do you know that among persons aged 12 or older, males were more likely than females (15.1 vs 7.9 percent) to drive under the influence of alcohol in the past year?Do you know that driving under the influence of alcohol was associated with age in 2010?  The rate was highest among persons aged 21 to 25 (23.4 percent). An estimated 5.8 percent of 16 or 17 year olds and 15.1 percent of 18 to 20 year olds reported driving under the influence of alcohol in the past year.  Beyond age 25, these rates showed a general decline with increasing age.

Do you know that fatal crashes in 2010, the highest percentage of drunk drivers was for drivers ages 21 to 24 (34 percent), followed by ages 25 to 34 (30 percent) and 35 to 44 (25 percent)? Do you know that the average person metabolises alcohol at the rate of about one drink per hour?  Only time will sober a person up.  Drinking strong coffee, exercising or taking a cold shower will not help. Do you know that the speed of alcohol absorption affects the rate at which one becomes drunk?  Unlike foods, alcohol does not have to be slowly digested.  As a person drinks faster than it takes the alcohol to be eliminated, the drug accumulates in the body, resulting in higher and higher levels of alcohol in the blood? Do you know that impairment is not determined by the type of drink, but rather by the amount of alcohol ingested over a specific period of time? .Do you know that in 2010, 211 children were killed in drunk driving crashes?  Out of those 211 deaths, 131 (62 percent) were riding with the drunk driver. Do you know that in 2010, 16 percent of all drivers involved in fatal crashes during the week were drunk driving crashes, compared to 31 percent on weekends? Do you know that alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2010 was four times higher at night than during the day (37 versus 9 percent)?Do you know that adults drank too much and got behind the wheel about 112 million times in 2010?  That is almost 300,000 incidences of drinking and driving each day. Do you that in the United States, the number of drunk driving deaths has been cut in half since Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was founded in 1980?In 2011, MADD served more than 63,000 victims and survivors of drunk and drugged driving crashes. Every day in America, another 27 people die as a result of drunk driving crashes. Drunk driving costs the United States $132 billion a year.If all 17 million people who admitted to driving drunk in 2010 had their own state, it would be the fifth largest in the U.S. Do you know that car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens, and about one-third of those are alcohol related? Do you know that teen alcohol use kills about 6,000 people each year, more than all illegal drugs combined? Do you know that one in five teens binge drink?  Only one in hundred parents believes his or her teen binge drinks. Do you know that on average, one in three people will be involved in a drunk driving crash in their lifetime? Do you know that almost one in three 8th graders has tried alcohol? Do you know that drunk driving costs each adult in the U.S. almost $500 per year? Do you know that one in three people will be involved in an alcohol-related crash in their lifetime? Do you know that in 2011, 9,878 people died in drunk driving crashes – one every 53 minutes? Do you know that almost every 90 seconds, a person is injured in a drunk driving crash? Do you know that an average drunk driver has driven drunk 80 times before first arrest?