by ndubuisi edeoga
The jury is out; with the World Health Organizations (WHO) recent, first ever report on worldwide road safety shows that low and middle income countries like Nigeria account for more than 90% of traffic fatalities worldwide. The breakdown of the report shows that about 1.3millon people die each year on our roads and between 20 and 50 million people sustain non-fatal injuries.
Do you know that traffic injuries cost about $518 billion dollars a year, not counting the lives lost for which we may not have a dollar value for? Have we been barking up the wrong tree?
The WHO goes on to tell us what we already know, but have refused to implement.
- Strictly enforce speed limits
- reduce drunk driving
- tighter seat-belt laws
- helmet laws
- more research on road planning and design
Road design is important since the report goes on to show that vulnerable road users listed as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists popularly known as okada men, account for 46% of all traffic deaths. The road safety chief; Corps marshall and Chief executive of the FRSC Mr. Osita Chiduka has not been sleeping, see his vision 2020 plan here. But this new call by the WHO merits his undivided attention. (sadly…again the FSC website is “down” http://www.frscnigeria.org/)
WHO recommends that road safety laws need to be made more comprehensive, and that enforcement of road safety rules needs to be strengthened. The Global status report on road safety is a call to action for all stakeholders, most importantly us.
Looking at the WHO fact site… Nigeria has a seat-belt law, motorcycle helmet law, drink-driving law amongst others but no Child restraint law. I’m Nigeria and I love my kids so much and I know most other Nigerians do love their kids. Not making enabling laws to protect our children by the Nigerian government leaves a lot to be desired. It looks like we don’t love our children enough to immunize them, now they make seat-belt laws and forget our kids, what next?
Now…lets us shall take the law into our hands. Spread the message to your friends and family, next time you are going home plan to buy some car seats for your friend and family, next time you are driving make sure you have your seat-belt on and ask everyone in your car to put their belt on too, next time you have to drink and drive, remember that it could be you, and that you are not immortal as we all believe, next time your speedometer gets above 100kph make a detour to the race course who knows you might be the next Michel Schumacher, and make some money while you are there. If we all make these little adjustments we will not have to wait for the Nigerian government to save us from ourselves.
Next time you are taking that new baby home from the hospital make sure you have the survival kit viz: mosquito net, car seat, immunization schedule in hand, and pray that the guy driving past you in car lot just read this blog.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has…Margaret Mead