How do we reduce road accidents? It is by installing speed limiters in vehicles to place a cap on speeding, says Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) Corps Marshal Boboye Oyeyemi. He spoke to ADEYINKA ADERIBIGBE last Wednesday, ahead of enforcement of the speed limiting device in cars on Saturday.
The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) kept faith with the October 1, dateline for enforcement of speed device in vehicles across the country.
The corps’ rank and file were on major highways on a stop-and-check of commercial vehicles in compliance with the directive.
The Corps Marshal, Boboye Oyeyemi, and other stakeholders in the transportation sector on September 26, in Abuja, resolved to begin the enforcement of speed limiters on October 1. The limiter is an antidote to road accidents, which have assumed a phenomenal dimension in the country.
However, the rate of accidents according to the FRSC, dropped significantly this year compared to last year. Oyeyemi said to make the roads safer, all motorists must install speed limiters in their vehicles.
The United Nation (UN) data on road accidents showed that Nigeria is the fourth worst nation in accidents ratio yearly, due largely to poor state of roads.
Last month, the FRSC recorded the highest casualty figure of 75 deaths from accidents across the country. One of the highest was the death of 16 people, when their bus plunged into a river on Abuja-Kaduna Road. In another accident, 18 people were burnt to death in Oyo-Ogbomoso road. Eighteen others lost their lives on the Ife-Ilesa road. These are apart from the trailer that fell on a commercial vehicle in Abia, killing five people.
The FRSC chief believes the drop in accident rate across the country was “a result of the commitment of our men to ensuring that we achieve the mandate of the United Nations Decade of Action Against Road Accidents (2011-2020), to reduce crashes by 50 percent.” To improve road monitoring, about 300 vehicles, he said, were injected into the system. “We now have more Zebra (ambulance) points, from 20 to 37. So the deployment of more logistics has improved our effectiveness”.
He said the next phase of the campaign to reduce, road carnage would be the enforcement of the speed limiter on which he had held fruitful meetings with all stakeholders.
“We have met with all the stakeholders on the issue of the installation of the speed limiting device, and they all resolved to comply with the directive. We met the leaderships of National Road Transport Owners (NARTO), Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN), National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers- Petroleum Tanker Drivers (NUPENG-PTD), and they all signified interest to comply. They expressed their satisfaction with all the steps taken so far to ensure that the device is installed on their trucks, but our major concern is to ensure that as many motorists as possible comply.”
He said the agency would embark on punitive but advisory compliance till next year, adding that the aim is to ensure that as many motorists, especially commercial fleet vehicle owners, comply.
“We would be embarking only on the advisory enforcement for now. We are going to be issuing tickets for any violation of the road traffic law and any vehicle caught would be given two weeks final warning deadline, to get the device installed.” He said all the stakeholders agreed that any operator found contravening the rule after the moratorium, should be sanctioned.
He continued: “We shall embark on advisory enforcement till the end of the year and full enforcement will commence by January 1 2017. We are on course; we are going ahead to enforce the directive by October 1.
Oyeyemi believes the speed limiter is the path to restoring sanity to the nation’s roads.
He carpeted those who are canvassing the adoption of spider technology, as against speed limiter in arresting speed violators, insisting that the former, would be vandalised in no time.
“People should stop misleading the government and Nigerians simply because of their own personal financial gain. There is a difference between speed camera and a speed limiting device. Spider technology is just a brand name for a speed camera device like a CCTV mounted on the road to capture the speed of any vehicle on the road. It helps to monitor the speed of any vehicle and enable you to know if any particular vehicle has flouted the speed limit of that road. So, many people have been extolling its benefits. For instance, when the camera picks the speed of a vehicle, a citation will be given and a ticket issued. But when you look at the level of our infrastructural development, the fact that we do not yet have regular electricity supply and the high level of vandalism of public facilities, then you might want to question the propriety of anyone thinking that speed camera is the best option at this stage of our development.
“Right now, we are producing signage backup for all our road construction companies in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Works. So, how would you set out to install speed cameras with that background? Before you even finish the installation of one area, they would have removed the whole thing. Except if, with the new change mantra of the Federal Government, Nigerians’ orientation changes to start protecting, rather than vandalising public utilities and facilities.”
Oyeyemi said the speed limiter is to restrain the speed of the vehicle. For example, the marginal speed on the highway is 90 km, so the device will ensure that no matter how you accelerate, you won’t exceed the prescribed speed. So, if your speed is 90, the calibration would be put at 95, to allow for an endurance or tolerance point. No matter how you accelerate, you can’t exceed the speed that has been calibrated on your vehicle. Another thing is that this device is installed once and for all, it is not something you would be renewing every year. If you buy a vehicle for about N1 million or more and you are to buy a speed limiting device for between N20 and N25,000, I think it is cost effective. We are talking about safety here and it makes economic sense not only to protect your life but also your investment.The limiter will greatly help reduce the rate of accidents on our roads. The lives of 170 million Nigerians most of who need one form of public transportation or the other must be preserved. Our focus would be commercial vehicles first because they carry large volume of passengers and we tend to lose more lives through them than private car owners.”
He said FRSC has nothing to do with marketing the equipment. Several marketers are already into it. It is not novel to us. Several major oil marketers, such as Mobil, MRS, Oando and Conoil, among others have keyed into installing speed limiters on their tankers long before now and we have gone ahead to ensure that all independent marketers also joined them. Now it is compulsory to have speed limiting device on your tanker before you can load petroleum products at any of our major depots of the major marketers. We are going to insist also that it would be impossible for you to load at any tank farms if you don’t have this device. There is also some organised transport operators like the ABC, Peace Transit that have it on their fleet, so what the FRSC has simply done was just to escalate this to the national level and we invited the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to set the approved standard for use in Nigeria, which in agreement with all stakeholders, had been done. So, we are working with SON to ensure that the right device is imported into the country. All we want is for you to cut down on your speed because we have found out that the possibility of saving more lives increases once one cuts down on speed and reckless driving. There are 38 accredited marketers and resellers certified by SON and the FRSC to sell the speed limiter so anybody can buy from any authorised sellers.
The FRSC boss said the speed limiter is fundamental to the government on the grounds that if it is not installed, there is the likelihood that before the offender gets his citation and ticket, he may have killed people. That is why the speed limiter is, to us, fundamental and regarded as a fitting programme to complement its preparedness for the ‘’ ’Ember’ month’s safe road’’ campaign.
‘’The absence of road signage is becoming increasingly worrisome because they are a major cause of accidents on our roads, especially at night. The FRSC is collaborating with the Federal Ministry of Works and state Ministries of Works to assist in designing appropriate road signs, and we are ensuring that the ones we are producing are reflective, especially at night because we have seen, especially with recent cases, that most of the terrible accidents that occurred at night were as a result of poor visibility of impediments to smooth driving on our highways. So, we are committed to saving lives by making sure that our roads are fitted with reflective road signs and our major focus for now are the federal roads and if we have access to these roads, we may install the signages and bill the Federal Ministry of Works to pay us back later. The fact remains that our highways require appropriate road furniture – road signs, road markings and other facilities and this is one of the things that guides a driver, especially at night. Road signs help you to know how many miles you have covered and the speed limit required on the road and, especially, they help in warning drivers of the nature of the roads and what lies ahead.
He added: ‘’Our tracking of accidents, especially those that occurred at night, have shown that they may have been avoided if there illuminating road signs, especially around narrow roads or very sharp bends, corners and turns. Driers would have taken necessary precaution that would likely prevent accidents if these are in place. Our own assignment is to continue to support the Federal Ministry of Works and the states to ensure that our roads are well fitted with appropriate facilities.’’