ROAD SAFETY ARTICLE
Candy Lightner of Mothers against drunk driving (MADD) and Rochelle Sobel of The Association for Safe International Road Travel are two mothers whose contributions have shaped road safety culture globally. These two lost their loved ones through a road traffic crash. Like every grieving mother, Lightner and Rochelle could have chosen to grief for life. They could equally have chosen to blame government failure or perhaps hate the driver that caused them pain. The Almighty God could even have been placed on judgment seat to explain why? Instead, they chose to stand and be counted.
I have paid credence to their sad stories and blazing trail globally. This piece is not about both mothers although the roads they have traveled to ensure no mother suffers the same trauma and anguish prompted me to do this piece hoping that it will provoke the menfolk into active involvement in road safety advocates meant to project a safer culture in our clime. Every parent’s role is to protect their children. Rochelle and Lightner could not protect theirs, yet they choose to protect others. This I believe should be the commitment of every father not just to grief but to do something to save other children from the same tragedy.
I don’t know if you are a father or mother. I also do not know if you have ever lost a loved one in any of these avoidable road traffic crashes which are majorly traceable to human errors such as excessive speeding, tyre blowout, fatigue, dangerous driving, distraction as a result of use of phone while driving or other impaired driving behaviors, I have lost friends too. These losses did not consign me to a sadist but challenged my commitment to doing more to saving lives.
I know that mothers suffer most when loved ones are lost but I believe that men should play more active roles in safety rather than being docile. Men should take the drivers seats to help incite others to action. They should kick a few pebbles, turn a few stones, and eventually have an avalanche of fathers who have chosen to say no to bad and irresponsible driving according to Candy Lightner.
I don’t know if you followed the numerous consultations between the Federal Road Safety Corps led by the Corps Marshal, Dr Boboye Oyeyemi with players in the transport sector fleet operators such as Dangote and Peace Mass Transit in 2019. I am sure you are conversant with the reasons for these numerous consultations occasioned by the increasing spate of road traffic crashes involving fleet operators among others and the need to checkmate bad practices and project best practices. I recall one of such meetings held with one of the topmost fleet operators as part of the Corps strategies to promote safety. In the meeting held, the FRSC helmsman fired with all arsenals when he expressed his worry over these trends and challenged the Management of the company and other operators to immediately put in place appropriate structures to safeguard lives and properties. He reminded them of the Corps projection to reduce road traffic crashes in line with the Decade of Action goals
The irony is that Peace Mass Transit blazed the trail in the use of speed limiters, and in the annual certification programme which requires fleet operators to present their vehicles and drivers as well as open their premises for inspection and certification by FRSC. since its inception in 2007, the Road Transport Standardisation Scheme (RTSS) has registered, inspected and certified a substantial number of fleet operators, in its annual fleet certification exercise. Through the same scheme, over 2,541 fleet operators’ safety managers have been trained, over 5,000 drivers of fleet operators certified while 642 convoy drivers of the Nigerian Governors were trained.
A good number of major fleet operators registered with the scheme right from the inception. These operators have been participating in the annual certification exercise introduced by the Commission through the Road Transport Safety Standardisation Scheme (RTSSS) launched in 2007.The scheme is an intervention strategy for ensuring professionalism in road transport management in accordance with the FRSC Establishment Act 2007. Notwithstanding these, some of these players post disturbing crash record which calls for stricter certification procedure where necessary.
The National Road Traffic Regulations (NRTR) 2012 deals with specific challenges of road safety. Regulation 198 (1) specifically states that all road transport operators who engage in inter-state road transport services shall establish a safety unit. They shall also appoint a safety officer as the head of the unit who shall ensure that operational standards are maintained as prescribed in the regulation.
The challenge for operators, according to my boss, is for them to put safety measures such as having competent safety manager/assistants in all its terminals and presenting their drivers for recertification as required by law. They should also ensure that their terminals are made conducive for smooth operations and that provision for emergency vehicles are made. Operators should present their vehicles for recertification and safety audit by the FRSC while safety managers must ensure that the speed limiters installed in their vehicles are not tempered with by their drivers.
These operators often pledge commitment to ensure that safety measures such as installation of speed limiting device, avoidance of overloading, insistence on regular retraining of the drivers and ensuring routine checks on the vehicle are key priorities. Notwithstanding these pledges, fathers must become watchers of these commitments for the safety of their wards through the codename, Fathers against dangerous driving