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Xmas:Reducing road hazards

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“EVERYBODY should get ready before I return because we will be taking off tonight, at most by 7am to the village,” said a man to his family. “But Obah (called his friend), you know your car is not in good condition. Will you be travelling with it without fixing the headlamp? You and I know it is very risky to drive in the night without light; otherwise you may involve yourself in some kind of accident. So, I suggest you live this journey till tomorrow morning”.

“Hmmm Osondu (replied Obah), what you are saying is right. But I need to catch up with an important meeting with my kinsmen. And this meeting starts by 6am. I don’t want to miss this opportunity. Anyway, I think I can manage it. After all, I have been into driving for more than 30 years now. I will be very, very careful. I am familiar with the route and know where potholes are. So, I don’t think I have any problem with that. What I need is to apply wisdom and caution”.

“But honey, I think what Osondu is saying is right. Let’s suspend this journey till tomorrow morning since our car is not in good state”, says his wife. “Shut up woman! What do you know about driving? When men are talking, women don’t talk back at them, okay”! Screamed Obah at his wife.

At about 10:30pm, Obah and his household left for the journey to their home town. In less than an hour, they had a fatal accident which claimed lives.

It was reported that Obah, on seeing that the road was free, drove smoothly in high speed until he stormed into a pothole and while trying to control the car, he stumbled into herd of cattle which led to the fatal accident.

Road accident is the most unwanted thing to happen to any road user although it happens quite often. The most unfortunate thing is that people don’t learn from others’ mistakes, particularly as it concerns being cautious to avoid road accidents. Most people are aware of the general rules and safety measures while using roads but it is only laxity on the part of road users that cause accidents and auto crashes.

Speaking on measures to be taken to reduce accidents, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Works, Emeka Ohuoha, said that government is working seriously to enhance the road infrastructure and minimise road mishaps. “Projects are on-going to fix all bad roads in the state to make driving easier for motorists, especially during the forthcoming yuletide.

We are working with the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) and other traffic management agencies to ensure that roads are safe for all motorists and road users. We realise that the Christmas and New Year periods come with increased traffic. This year is going to be the safest in terms of road traffic. The rains took a great toll on our roads but we are already fixing all the roads with the current ‘Operation Fill All Potholes”.

Also, the Sector Commander of Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC)in Anambra State, Mr Sunday Ajayi, said that ‘Operation Fill All Potholes’ was aimed at drawing attention of stakeholders and pay respect to those who died using roads.

Ajayi identified speed as a major cause of road accidents and reiterated the call for motorists to install the speed limiter in their vehicles. “FRSC is working hard to reduce crash, deaths and injuries arising from road uses. Road accident has caused more harm than good to most people and families that have lost souls in the hands of accident. Many families are in pain; children are out of school, hunger and poverty reign in homes because they lost their bread winners. We all have our roles in ensuring that our roads are safe. We must know the rules and we must comply with them”, he said.

According to Okwudili Nwankwo, a civil servant, who also owns a car, most drivers fall victim because they are inexperienced in driving. “Many drivers don’t even go through driving school. They just felt they can drive and they drive. They are not well informed on certain driving rules and regulations, skills and safety measures. And you know, when you lack certain information about something, you will always mess up in the field just like this road accident you mentioned.

Drivers need to know the importance of seat belt, having fire extinguishers in their cars, checking their cars before usage at any given time, the right side of the road to overtake, speed limits, among others”.

Ogochukwu Okeke, a teacher and a car owner stated that most drivers drive without caution and with recklessness.” Most of us who drive throw away caution into the bush, driving as if they own their lives and others. They drive recklessly trying to overtake each other like it’s a car race competition, refusing to adhere to simple traffic and driving rules and regulations. Everything has rules and regulations and if you fail to respect it, there will be problem.

Schools have rules and regulations which students or pupils abide with; otherwise if a child goes contrary to it, he or she will be punished or expelled. So, that is it. Hospitals, judiciary, civil service commission and what have you also have rules and regulations to abide with. It is important for drivers to adhere to the rules governing driving so as to reduce this excessive road accident.

Ifenyinwa Okafor, a nurse, revealed that several victims of road accidents are usually brought to the hospital for treatment.” Some survive while others don’t due to the nature of injury procured. And there are those who die at the spot”.

“The use of mobile phones and other gadgets while driving can lead to eventuality. Even with several warnings from government agencies like FRSC concerning transportation, drivers still indulge in such act by making calls, reading newspapers, messages and replying text messages, watching videos in the car while driving, dancing or trying to demonstrate a dancing movement while on steering and so on. This kind of behaviours can cause accident because of lack of concentration.

If drivers can do away with their mobile devices and gadgets, it will help a lot. The chances of accident will reduce.
Again, it is not uncommon for drivers who drive for a long period of time to become tired and exhausted, but because they want to get to their destination on time, they then push their body over its limits. This can be dangerous because the driver could fall asleep. You can’t cheat nature”, she pointed out.

Anekwuochie Okoli, a mechanical engineer, who specialises on Benzediz Benz, noted that some drivers usually fail to maintain their cars due to lack of money.”Many people fail to engage in simple maintenance check and servicing of their vehicles, particularly as it concerns break, tyres, steering, head lamps.

Though most often, it is hard to see or get some parts of these vehicles. Based on this, the affected drivers may decide to keep managing the car that way, which unknown to them, is dangerous because anything can happen. It is important to keep your vehicle fit and sound before driving to prevent loss of lives and properties”, he exposed.

Ngozi Okeke, a trader, emphasised that most of these drivers are rude and arrogant to be corrected. “There are drivers who like to quarrel with passengers to the extent of fighting even when he is driving. When you try to call back their senses, they will turn back at you instantly. You can see so many of them around. They have no manners. Some while driving may be drinking kai kai or even smoking.

The concentration and focus will not be there. Some drive carelessly that they may not notice that someone is standing along the road or that somebody is trying to cross the road and then, accident will occur. And when approached, he will be claiming right because he knows he is at fault. Sometimes, they will claim that they don’t know how it happened, that they were bewitched by God knows who instead of accepting mistakes and allow themselves to be corrected”.

She also listed other causes like passengers projecting their bodies outside vehicles, talking to drivers, alighting and boarding vehicles from wrong side, travelling on footboards, as well as catching a running bus or vehicle. All these can carelessly lead to road accident. People should also be cautioned on how they do their things because no one knows when this eventuality will come.

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