ROAD SIGNS AND SAFE DRIVING

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ROAD SAFETY ARTICLE

Between 24th and 25th August, 2017,I had the rare privilege to accompany  the Corps Marshal of the  Federal Road Safety Corps,Dr Boboye Oyeyemi to the 12th session of the Expert Group on road traffic signs and signals held in Geneva, Switzerland. The trip was exciting because it provided a platform to learn best practices on road signs and signals. It also provided me an air of freedom  that I will always cherish and I must thank my boss who resisted every attempt by me to carry his briefcase like we do back home and said to me, jonas,  please this is not Nigeria ooo!.Please forgive me for this two weeks piece as the first part merely captures a reflection of the Geneva trip while the second part deals with road signs and your safety The Group was established by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) to provide an international discussion platform to review the 1968 Convention on Road Signs and Signals and the 1971 European Agreement supplementing the 1968 Convention on Road Signs and Signals and their implementation. The Group aims at bringing together road  safety specialists from the public and private sectors to  analyse issues related to uniform interpretation and a more effective implementation of the 1968 Convention on Road Signs and Signals and the 1971 European Agreement supplementing the 1968 Convention on Road Signs and Signals.

The Expert Group seeks to achieve three major objectives: assess the internal consistencies of the 1968 Convention on Road Signs and Signals and the 1971 European Agreement supplementing the 1968 Convention on Road Signs and Signals and consider the coherence of these two international legal instruments,  take stock of the existing national legislation (of each Contracting Party to these two legal instruments) to describe and assess the degree of implementation of the 1968 Convention on Road Signs and Signals and the 1971 European Agreement supplementing the 1968 Convention on Road Signs and Signals in these Contracting Parties and lastly write and submit a final report aimed at identifying any perceived inadequacies and inconsistencies of the two legal instruments; and inconsistencies between these two legal instruments and the existing national legislation. The final report may propose amendments to the 1968 Convention on Road Signs and Signals and the 1971 European Agreement supplementing the 1968 Convention on Road Signs and Signals.

During the two day programme, I kept pondering on the nakedness of our roads which was the focus of this column a couple of weeks ago. I tried reflecting on how much resources the developing climes are committing to ensure that lives are preserved by improving infrastructures that are by any standard high. A fallout of the session was a presentations made on e-CoRSS (electronic convention on signs and signals)e-CoRSS  was made possible by  Easa Hussain AL Yousifi  of charitable Trust,Kuwait who sponsored the work. I do hope that similar charitable organisations and others from possibly the oil related companies, Insurance, Banks or transport sectors could be approached to sponsor an e-Revised Highway Code will consider sponsoring an electronic version of our Revised Highway Code which will add a fillip to the drive to inculcate safety awareness aimed at redressing the crash trend in the country. The programme further made me to reflect on the  communiqué issued at The 23rd Meeting of the National Council on Works with the theme: “Adequate Traffic Signage-An Essential Key for Highways Infrastructure, Safety and Comfort,” which urged relevant government agencies to ensure regular review of Road Signs System to conform with the 1968 UN Convention and stakeholders involved in the review  should be expanded to include Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing (Works Sector), State Ministries of Works and Transport, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Federal Roads Safety Corps, Vehicle Inspection Office (VIO) and Nigeria Society of Engineers, and the urgent need  to review  the Revised Highway Code to be in tandem with the final anticipated  conventions which would incorporate the ongoing reviews.

  As a country there is the need to key into the changes and ensure compliance especially in keeping with Article 8 of the Convention which states that, ”In order to facilitate the understanding of signs, the system of signs and signals prescribed in this Convention is based on the use of shapes, and colours characteristics of each class of signs and, where possible on the use of graphic symbols rather than inscriptions. Where Contracting Parties consider it necessary to modify the symbols prescribed, the modifications made shall not alter their essential characteristics”.

 Although the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the West African Road Safety Organisation (WARSO) were missing in action, I am optimistic that both ECA and WARSO would play vital roles in Africa and the sub-region. In the words of one of the participant, Nigeria must keep pace with global best practices. Consequently, the country’s intervention especially with regards to a review of our road traffic signs and signals/Revised Highway Code should follow and incorporate the final report of the ongoing review since the 1968 Convention is now obsolete.