The Folly of Joggers 

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ROAD SAFETY ARTICLE

This piece is not a new piece although I have tried to refresh it a bit. It is a piece I wrote about two years ago when  I raised my concern over the increasing cases of deaths and injuries involving pedestrians especially joggers as a result of apathy, ignorance, deliberate ignorance or just attitude. I followed up the write up with another piece which equally shed light on the roles and responsibilities of drivers in ensuring the deaths and injury trend is reduced in line with the Federal Road Safety Corps Corporate goals of reducing road traffic crashes by 20percent and fatalities by 30percent in 2015.That goal has changed as the focus for 2018 is to reduce road traffic crashes by 15 percent and fatalities by 30 percent.

While the first piece was titled; Pedestrian Safety; Rules for joggers, the second was titled; Driver and Pedestrian Safety. I must confess that despite all that I wrote in the above, I am still disturbed by the disturbing trend which is not changing by the day.  This is why I am compelled to write again on this subject barely two months after the piece was published. For starters, I wish to inform you that in August 2014,I moved to a new estate in Abuja and just  recently moved into another estate . The estate boasts of tarred and expansive roads but like the case in some of our roads or estates, the appropriate road furniture such as road markings or walkways are absent. 

This absence naturally tasks me while jogging in ensuring that all precautions are taken to avoid exposure to a possible pedestrian-vehicle collision. Like I wrote earlier, my daily routine to keep fit is a thirty to one hour walking and jogging exercise. Every time I embark on this daily exercise, I stumble on some oddities by fellow joggers who by their mien are literate but ignorant of the risk pedestrians’ face.  I am therefore writing because increasing pedestrian safety will reduce road traffic fatalities and thus help us in achieving our strategic goals of reducing road traffic crashes by 15percent and fatalities by 30percent.

Like I said earlier, Pedestrian injuries and fatalities is a major global problem related to travel and road safety.  In Nigeria, it is a major road safety issue especially with the absence of appropriate infrastructures such as walkways and pedestrian bridges except in few cities, including Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory where through the partnership with the World bank, pedestrian bridges have been provided even though there is still the apathy by pedestrians to utilize them, thus causing unnecessary crashes and deaths.

Even developed societies have their fair share of this challenge where Pedestrian-vehicle crashes are a major problem.  The times and days pedestrians are most at risk of injury differ from those when they are most at risk of death. Pedestrian vehicle crashes knows no bounds as they occur both in urban and rural areas and in both places where there are no traffic controls and where there exist. They affect both adults and children.

No single factor is completely responsible for the problem of pedestrian-vehicle crashes resulting in injuries and fatalities. A combination of unsafe pedestrian behavior, vehicle and driver factors, problematic physical environments, and other special conditions all contribute to them. Pedestrian-vehicle crashes occur when physical environments allow pedestrians to come into contact with moving vehicles.

  These crashes occur when physical environments allow pedestrians to come into contact with moving vehicles like the case in my new estate. If this occurs without check, then a pedestrian-vehicle crash problem exists. Most, if not all of such problems will be the result of failures of the following: pedestrians who are inattentive or incapable of using the road safely; irresponsible drivers and physical environments that encourage unsafe pedestrian and/or driver behavior, or failure to adequately separate pedestrians and vehicles. 

Addressing these problems will provide relief, promote safety for pedestrians and reduce if not eliminate these crashes Unsafe pedestrian behavior is a major factor in pedestrian injuries and fatalities whether in low or high income countries. Most studies done on pedestrian vehicle crashes heaps about 80percent of the blame on pedestrians and this explains my emphasis on increasing pedestrian safety consciousness.

I told you that I am very worried at the development I have noticed in the over six months since I moved to this new environment. Within this period, I must have stumbled on hundreds of joggers who choose the early hours between 5-7am to jog. 

This period has a very peculiar challenge which is that of visibility. Strangely I must confess that in six months, less than five percent of joggers in this estate have attempted to demonstrate understanding  principle number one for joggers which demands that they ensure that they are visible by wearing dresses that either reflects or better still bright colored dresses. 

Of this five percent, only two people were seen jogging with a reflective jacket and an arm band to enhance visibility. A fairly good number attempt to wear bright colors although they don’t reflect’

Also recently, I noticed the growing number of younger or kid joggers who mostly jog in the company of parents or guardians. 

While it might be okay to excuse   the level of ignorance exhibited by most adults, I however shudder when I see a parent walking or jogging and exhibiting gross ignorance or deliberate disobedience to safety rules that will protect himself and members of his family especially children whom the scripture describes as Gods heritage. It is equally worrisome to see this younger joggers who most often are supposed to be more learned, courtesy of the numerous safety awareness campaign embarked by the Commission  to  schools as part of the catch them young strategy, exhibit same folly especially that of walking or jogging on the street along with the traffic flow, thereby ignoring designated pedestrian pathways where such exist or complying with rule number two rule which demands pedestrians to avoid backing traffic when walking or jogging. 

Recently, a fresh oddity was noticed when on two different occasions I stumbled on advanced joggers who prefer biking to joggers. They were seen in dark clothes at the early hours of the day and were riding backing traffic. Generally, the norm among a greater number is to wear dark clothes while jogging. 

There are other Pedestrian behavior such as walking against a pedestrian walk signal, crossing a street where there is no crosswalk, crossing a street outside of a marked crosswalk where one is present, and walking on a street along with the traffic flow (ignoring designated pedestrian pathways).Because of their vulnerability, pedestrians or joggers while walking in the dark like  wear  or carry white, bright colored or reflective clothing so that they can be easily seen because  it is difficult for motorists to see a pedestrian dressed completely in dark clothes on the road. Wearing a light-colored jacket or trousers and if possible an item of clothing with a reflective strip on it is also recommended. It is extremely important to ensure that while jogging, you jog on the left side of the road facing oncoming traffic whether footpaths are provided or not. Almost every jogger thinks it is a vogue to wear headphones while jogging. You must avoid wearing headphones as it is often possible to hear traffic before you can see it and if you are wearing headphones, the sound might drown out the traffic and make you more vulnerable as a pedestrian.

There are other unsafe pedestrian behavior which also increases the risk of injury or fatality and these behaviors are among the oddities that I observe daily as I jog. They include failure to yield, jogging/walking in the wrong direction which is common not just among joggers but a greater percentage of pedestrians including adults and wearing dark dresses at night or even early in the morning.

Before I close my thoughts on this piece which is running for the second week, please permit me to share my near miss experience with you as I was almost knocked down or maybe killed while jogging. I am hoping my experience will help you adjust your self from any form or arrogance or showoff while jogging. As a practitioner road safety person, I comply with the rules for safety while driving or jogging..I am also careful to remember that there is the possibility of being knocked down by a crazy cab driver or even a private car owner. I therefore do not joke with the sacred rule that says face oncoming traffic. However on this fateful day, I was doing my stuff, jogging and sweating and very conscious that I had done everything possible to stay safe such as ensuring I am very visible to traffic. I guess I had forgotten the Nigerian maxim that says look left, look right, look up, look in front, look back because you stand the risk of being run over from any direction within our clime. I was very sure that I looked at all the possible directions but I missed one of the greatest caution and that is that whenever you are approaching a fuel station, or even a possible T-junction or even a Y-junction you must watch for drivers who after buying fuel would rather choose to drive against traffic instead of using the legal route of driving .Such drivers usually exhibit their deviant driving behavior using the hard shoulders or even the walkway. What saved me on that fateful day was that I was that even though I was jogging and facing traffic, I also ensured that I jogged very far away from the hard shoulder. I would have been a dead meat if I had been jogging as if I had a right of way of the hard shoulder.

 My startled experience immediately flashed my mind to the reference I made in one of the write up  on the same subject when I recalled how one of our foremost journalist, Dimgba Igwe lost his life while jogging.Although it is bout fur years since the incident which occurred on September 6th 2014,the memory is one we must always rememeber.This is how it was captured by the media when it happened. ‘’ Dimgba Igwe, is dead. The Late Dimgba Igwe died on Saturday morning after being hit by a car while jogging on his street in the  Okota area of Lagos. Veteran Journalist, Dimgba Igwe According to The Sun, Dimgba Igwe who was the Vice Chairman of  The Sun Publishing Limited, sustained a fatal injury and was immediately taken to the hospital where he underwent surgical emergency, unfortunately he died afterwards. The President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Femi Adeshina who is also the Editor-in-Chief of Sun Newspaper confirmed the death of Mr Igwe‎, described it as shocking saying: “Yes it’s true. He was my boss, he was my mentor, I feel his devastated about his death”. In a statement by Managing Director, Femi Adesina, the former Abia State governor said: ” ”Dimgba Igwe was too much of a gentleman, fine brain and mind to die tragically like this.” The statement reads:“Mr Igwe passed on today around 10 a.m at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) of injuries suffered from a hit-and-run driver, as he jogged in his Okota, Lagos, neighborhood.“ First aid was administered to him at St. Raphael Hospital, Ago Palace Way, before he was moved to LASUTH for surgical emergency. He did not survive.”