ROAD SIGNS AND SAFE DRIVING ARTICLE 

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As I draw the curtain on the piece on road signs and safe driving, I must recognize government effort to address the lacuna with respect to the nakedness of our roads. But while we wait to see the outcome of current government strategy to improve roads infrastructure including road furniture as a plank for redressing road traffic crashes, we must know that Countries categorize road signs in different ways. In Nigeria for instance, road signs are categorized under these broad categories namely: Regulatory signs, which are mostly circular in shape and are of two types. Those with red circles are prohibitive signs while those with blue circles but no red signs boarder mostly give positive instructions and are mandatory signs, which are usually rectangular. They provide guidance information.

 In view of the high level of road traffic accident during this season, this piece cannot but be timely as it has been observed that most avoidable crashes are sometimes occasioned by not only lack of adequate knowledge of road signs, but failure of motorist to adhere strictly to the few existing road signs on our highways. Its ubiquity on our road is desirable at this point in time when the Ember Months” are already here. Motorist and pedestrians alike need these signs to achieve their ultimate aim of their various destinations safely. A renewed consciousness on compliance with road signs will to a great extent reduce carnage on our highways. Knowledge they say is power- It is these road signs that arm you with adequate knowledge of any road you are plying. When these roads signs are complied with, you can and will always reach your destinations safely.

 Our road signs must reflect as Retro-reflectivity increases road safety. If some minimum reflectivity is not maintained, the signs, delineators or makings will not accomplish the job it was intended to perform. Our signs are yet to meet international standard. We need to maintain minimum level of retro-reflectivity of signs and markings on our highways. This is because a pavement marking not reflectorised or illuminated according to FERMA is like a cosmetic application of white powder on a lady’s face that wears off with little perspiration. But a pavement marking is meant for safety and not for aesthetics. 

It is not supposed to be like applied lipstick on a woman’s lips, which sticks to the driving cup after few sips. Pavement markings are meant to be high luminous intensity and not to be picked (stick to) up by vehicle tyres after few passes (sips).It is expected that if minimum retro-reflectivity is maintained in our pavement markings, signs and delineations, there will be increase in nighttime and poor weather safety on our roads and ultimately fewer crashes, injuries and fatalities will be reported. Retro-reflectivity is a critical element that has helped U.S Department of transport achieve its safety goals of reducing fatalities by 20%.

 While it is true that Nigeria, unlike the U.K with more than 2,500,000 signs and signals, 850,000 road markings and 7,000,000 road signs within roads in England alone does not have adequate signs, we can still boast of some signs and markings.The question to ask is,what is  your attitude to these signs? Let us start with overtaking prohibited signs, supplemented with road markings including no change lane – you will be shocked to find that most road users care less about these road markings and signs that are put to ensure smooth and safe traffic. The double solid marks for instance forbids you from overtaking. The broken lines on the other hand, are used in areas where there are no restrictions on overtaking. In areas where there are restrictions on overtaking, a solid line is painted alongside the broken line. The broken line therefore becomes your legal right to overtake only if the road is clear and safe for you to do so.

 Our major thrust in this weeks piece however, is Regulatory signs which are mostly circular in shape and are of two types. Those with red circles are prohibitive signs while those with blue circles are prohibitive signs while those with blue circles but no red boarders mostly give positive instructions and are mandatory signs, which are usually rectangular. They provide guidance information. These includes Stop signs, No Parking Signs, the No ‘U’ Turn sign, No Right Turn, Police Check Lines, Change Lane Signs, Speed Limits which sometime may specify 50 – 80km as maximum speed limit, often times at built up areas or may be construction signs amongst other signs .While I agree that we need more signs to promote safety, it is regrettable to say that something is still fundamentally wrong with our attitude towards the use of these signs.For example, in States where ON street and OFF street parking signs exist, they have become merely new aesthetics, as you will still find people parking at junctions, at bends disregarding street parking signs. Others would disregard the traffic rules that say that anything that obstructs the free flow of traffic is an offence.

 What about the signs that mandates you in a place like the FCT to use under the bridge if going ahead? At the Bolingo and NNPC Mega Station junctions where such signs are prominent, accidents daily occur not due to the absence of the appropriate signs or the road condition but simply that of attitude. Today, these junctions have become black spots. Norwegian definition of accident black spot on a national highway is any place with a minimum length of 100 meters, where at least four injury accidents have been reported to the police during a four year period, we can therefore conveniently describe the Giri junction, Kwali –Yangoji, Abaji – Lokoja and major junctions in the FCT and Hawan Kibo in Plateau State as black spots. 

You will be amazed that the same driving behavior is exhibited here leading to avoidable crashes and death.

What about the traffic light signs? Most often drivers rarely know that they must not cross the stop lines, that they must always stay behind the stop line and that it is only when they have stepped on the stop line before the amber light that they are allowed to move on.More positive and right attitude is desirable at this point in time now that the ‘Ember’ month is already here. Motorist and pedestrians alike need these signs to achieve their ultimate aim of getting to their various destinations safely. A renewed consciousness on compliance with road signs will to a great extent reduce carnage on our highways. Knowledge they say is power. It is these road signs that arm you with adequate knowledge of any road you are plying. When road signs are complied with, you can and will always reach your destination safety. We need more road signs to promote a safe driving culture.