ROAD SAFETY ARTICLE
As we gradually count down to the end of 2019, we need to ponder on our driving behavior. We also need to ponder on the numerous tragedies and deaths as well as injuries through road traffic crashes which were all avoidable. To guide your thoughts please allow me to share a piece I used at the beginning of 2019.It started thus;last night after having a drink too many steve olufemi sodiya,aka ,OJJ(omuti jati jati)left the party quietly and left his car behind because he knew drunk driving was dangerous .he took a taxi. From the party his friends phoned him and asked, where have you gone’’ he replied that having drank a bit too much, he left his car behind and took home. His friends shouted, but the party is in your house…which house did you go? Where are you now? Two friends of mine forwarded this hilarious but lifesaving message which got my ribs cracked due to too much laughter. I do not know the creative mind behind this message but I bet you it hilariously captures the message of this season and the need for people to drink responsible.
As we race into the end of 2019 with all the deaths and injuries, I cannot find a better topic to discuss and in the lighter mood, with the expensive joke couched. I have tried to imagine who among our comic acts would be behind this; okey bakassi, funny bone, acapella……. It is no doubt the vintage work of a crazy creative mind. But it is kudos to the creator of this. This is why I will urge you to spare time and rethink your driving habits this season. Driving is a serious occupation which demands total concentration. It is said to be the most dangerous of all human activities…A recent WHO studies shows that 40 to 60 percent of all injury deaths are attributed to violence. This is particularly so for traffic accident involving alcohol. ALCOHOL misuse is usually on the high side this season. So too is drugs, whether legal or illegal. But do you know that an estimated 25% of those who drive after drinking get involved in accidents which are alcohol induced and that the chances of you being involved in an accident are multiplied 10times and that such Accident could be fatal depending on the level of alcohol.
Like alcohol, drugs affect your driving behavior and can lead to some of the following individually, or in combination: slower reactions, which can make you react incorrectly, poor concentration and confused thinking. A driver who drives without concentration is like a mad man with a sharp knife who knows who his next victim will be. A drugged driver is over confident and has distorted perception of the event and situations around him. He is at risk of taking unnecessary risks which can expose him to unimaginable danger. He also has poor coordination, lacks the composure to put him together in an emergency situation. He is restive and erratic, unable to be in control of his actions as he loses his composure, sometimes feigning ignorance and showing arrogance at the same time. He also has blurred vision, dizziness and severe fatigue. Drugs and alcohol therefore increases the chances of road crashes but also their fatalities.
Drink driving is not the only peculiar risk behavior. Reflect on these prevalent behavioral pattern in previous years: Excessive speed, driving and phoning, non-use of seat belt, overloading, lapped children, squeezed, some standing, dangerous overtaking, indulgence in night travels, use of worn out tyres, over/under inflated tyres, mechanical deficient vehicles, under aged driving, arrogance/impatience, fatigue, driving under the influence of alcohol and impaired driving. Most alcoholic freaks are also speed deviants. That is why I have chosen to also briefly look at excessive speeding and the use of child restraints for children.
Speed-speed is at the core of the traffic injury problem. It is the major determinant of the extent of injury. It influences both crash risk and crash consequences. The physical layout of the road and its surrounding can both encourage and discourage speed. However, crash risk increases as speed increases especially at junctions and while overtaking. The effect of impact speed on the risk of death for pedestrians is colossal, but for vehicle occupants also, injury severity increases with impact speed. The higher the speed of a vehicle, the shorter time the driver has to stop and avoid a crash. This is why the possibility of fatal injury increases from close to zero to almost 100% as the change in impact speed increases from 20km/h to 100km/h. A car travelling at 50km/h will typically require 1.3metres to stop while a car travelling at 40km/h will stop in less than 8. 5metres.An average increase speed of 1km/h is associated with a 3% higher risk of a crash involving an injury. Travelling at 5km/h above a road speed limit of 65km/h results in an increase in the relative risk of being involved in a casualty crash that is comparable with having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05g/dl. For car occupants in a crash with an impact speed of 80km/h, the likelihood of deaths is 20 times what it would have been at an impact speed of 30km/h. It is because of the grave risk involved that a maximum speed limit of 100km/h for private cars and 90km/h for taxis and buses is set on the expressway while at built up areas such as commercial and residential areas; 50km/h is the speed limit.
However, drivers are counseled to adhere to common sense speed limit by adjusting speed to suit environment, his mental state and experience. Seat belt, one of the most effective means of reducing deaths and injury for vehicle occupants is the use of seat-belt by all occupants in the front and rear seats as contained in section 58(3) and (4)of the National Road Traffic Regulations, 2004. Seat belt use saves.
They don’t prevent crashes but play a crucial role in reducing the severity of injury to vehicle occupants. Vehicle safety features are distinguished by “. primary safety and secondary safety”. Primary safety features aim to prevent an accident taking place, e.g. Good brakes and tyres. Secondary safety features aim to prevent or minimize injury to a vehicle occupant once the accident has occurred. Seat belts are a secondary safety device with a number of objectives which includes; preventing ejection from the vehicle in an impact, reducing the risk of contact with the interior of the vehicle or reducing the speed of such impacts, providing a distributed force to the wearer to give the necessary support in an accident and restraining the vehicle occupant before guiding them back into their seats.
While seat belt is recommended for adults, the safest way to carry a child and to protect that child is to use a child seat that is suitable for the weight and size of that child. Do you now that even at a minor crash; an unrestrained child would be thrown about inside the vehicle, injuring themselves and others? They could also be thrown from the car through one of the windows. Do you also know that in a crash at just30km/h, an unrestrained child would be thrown forward with a force, 30 to 60 times their body weight? They would be thrown about inside the vehicle, injuring themselves and quite seriously injuring or even killing other people inside the vehicle. Do you know that it is not safe to hold a child on your laps? In a crash, the child could be crushed between our body and part of the car’s interior? That even if you were using a seat belt, the child would be torn from your arms and you would not be able to hold onto to them, no matter how hard you try. Do you also know that it is also dangerous to put a seat belt around yourself and a child or around two children; or to carry that child or children in the front passengers’ seat or on your tummy? Do you equally know that the safest way to travel with that child no matter the distance is a child seat or restraints.