My Encounter with a Pedestrian

Road Safety Article

Yesterday, I had the privilege of sharing my thoughts with a never-say-never pedestrian. The young man was probably in his late 20’s or early thirties. What attracted me to him was the aesthetic he displayed while jogging, as well as  his head phone. I also noticed that he was equally facing traffic while jogging.

The young man is named Teddy. I am not talking about Teddy Pendergrass, my favourite R&B and soul artist who passed on since. This Teddy claims to be a fan of the late Teddy although he accepts that he never knew or met him but got addicted to his old tunes, thanks to his parents who  are fanatical about his music. Strangely, he was shocked when I informed him that Teddy was involved in a car crash in March 1982 that left him paralysed from the waist down. He died from respiratory failure in January 2010.

Anyway, I was the one who initiated a discussion with the young man who seemed to be without any worries. My worry was on what I suspected to be a care free attitude even on matters that has to do with his life. Our discussion lasted for about five to ten minutes but despite all the pointers to drive home my point, he stood his ground insisting that he was cool with the dress code on him and insisted that his headphone was part and parcel of his lifestyle.

I am tempted to rehash my old piece on pedestrian safety as a reminder to his likes to tread with caution. pained as I write. 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.

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 because of the death scare. For starters, I wish to inform you that since I moved to a new estate in Abuja,I have seen all sorts of mannerisms by joggers . 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 and fatalities.

As I said earlier, Pedestrian injuries and fatalities are 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 know 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 behaviour, 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 behaviour, 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 behaviour 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 80 percent of the blame on pedestrians and this explains my emphasis on increasing pedestrian safety consciousness.

I told you that I am very worried about the development I have noticed  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 of the principle number one for joggers which demands that they ensure that they are visible by wearing dresses that either reflect or better still bright colour 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.

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