Nigeria road is a death trap, a bomb ready to explode, going by the report given by the Federal Road Safety Corps recently as researched by WHO, out of 192 countries ranked, Nigeria came 191 in number of deaths caused by road accidents, coming as the 2nd worst country in the world. It states further that 162 people die from road accidents from every 100, 000 Nigerian, this is a pandemic. This report indicates that road accidents is gradually overtaking deaths from Malaria and Tuberculosis. Road accidents in Nigeria have claimed some of our best brains, ranging from all known professions. The tide is very high and has got to a dangerous proportion and we all need to do something to stem this critical, but avoidable development.
The principal cause of road accidents in Nigeria is the state of our roads, they are poorly constructed and very rarely managed. Our roads are in such state that driving on it is very risky, the roads are constantly in poor state and do not follow international standards causing quick degradation and deterioration. Roads like any structure deteriorates due to accumulated damage from vehicles and environment forces like oxidation, thermal cracking etc. Every roads should have life span, which needs to be adhered to strictly and should be constantly tested for degradation, joint and crack formation. Our roads should be constantly maintained to reduce this negative environmental impacts and in effect help to drive down deaths suffered as a result of road accidents in Nigeria.
Most of the roads in Nigeria do not have traffic signs, the few roads with signs are poorly marked and most drivers have not gone through any formal drivers training or assessments to learn the signs. People simply get on the road and just drive their cars. An average life on the road in Nigeria is a chaos, most people do not obey, know or follow any traffic rules. Driving in Nigeria is a game of who is the smartest and these have led to unnecessary accidents and deaths. It is very sad to know that portholes are still on our busiest motor-ways and are left unattended for so long that it ends up claiming so many lives. Many driver bump into those portholes, causing their cars to somersault, while others run into other vehicles on the road, while trying to avoid the portholes, leading to untimely deaths.
Traffic signs are very important if we want to reduce road accidents, it is not an option we can ignore. There are several categories of road signs we need to enact as advised by the Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals of 1968, part of these signs are danger warning signs, priority signs, prohibitive or restrictive signs, mandatory signs, special regulations signs, direction, position and indication signs, also information, facilities and service signs. These and more signs needs to be enacted in Nigeria, it will guide non-local drivers and help to drastically bring down road accident figures in Nigeria.
A lot of Nigerians invest their earning on cars that have already been scrapped from their source countries, but they believe their illiterate road-side mechanic can do the magic and bring the cars back to live, this often dilapidated and overused cars lead to road accidents and air pollution, which is very prevalent in Nigeria. Nigeria has become the dumping ground for scrapped, unmotorised cars and other equipments, most vehicles on our roads are are badly maintained, over-aged and not fit for the roads. These cars constantly find their ways into Nigeria on a daily basis.
The long held belief that 'Tokunbo (used cars) cars are better than new cars is unfortunate and should be done away with, there is no way used cars would be better than new, we will only continue to risk our lives and cause more deaths if we continue to use cars that should be scrapped. Some people even prefer to buy used car tyres, the tyres ends up bursting while the car is in motion. It is not compulsory for all of us to drive, if you cannot afford good and sustainable cars, you might as well not bother, rather than buying cars that will eventually terminate your life.
There is need for improved standards among the engineers that maintain vehicles in Nigeria, currently the available workforce falls way below the international standards and Nigerians need to start getting careful of the mechanic they give their cars to for repair. Most Nigerians seldom service their cars, they only remember the mechanic when the car breaks down, this is not right and servicing of cars regularly will go a long way in reducing road accidents.
We must also be mindful of the speed that we travel, speed limits are often neglected in Nigeria despite our bad roads, these makes it a lot difficult for drivers to control the cars in a reasonable manner when things go wrong. A lot can still easily get their drivers license from the comfort of their homes without undergoing any test or learn how to drive formally, that way we have so many unlearned drivers on our roads increasing the level of road accidents in Nigeria. Loads in our vehicles should be weight, a 75 tons trailer should not be made to do 100 tons, it will help the driver to control the large vehicles when things go wrong and will save our roads from constant damage.
A lot of our vehicle owners are not helping the situation, a vehicle that is designed to accommodate 4 passengers, are often overstretched to carry as much as 7 passengers. Our commercial vehicle operators are not helping either, they are only concerned about the money they make, and often redesign the sitting pattern of their commercial vehicles to accommodate as many people as they can get in. Nigeria needs to have regulations in place to determine the number of people that should be in each brands of vehicle at any particular time. 'Lapping' in commercial vehicles should be stopped and conductors must be made to sit and not hang on the doors. Accidental deaths caused by commercial vehicles are on the high and we need to address these as soon as we can.