How To Die This Ember | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Columnists, Safe Drive

How To Die This Ember

Posted: Oct 18, 2015 at 1:30 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Jonas Agwu

Whenever I ponder over the bad driving habits by some motorists and the spate of avoidable road traffic crashes deaths and injuries, three scriptures from the Holy book pops up in my mind .The three scriptures are from the books of Deuteronomy, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes; the three scriptures emphasises Gods concern and His urge to see us live and not die. In Deuteronomy 30:19, God said, I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; Therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live. In Proverbs 18:21, Heaven warns us to guard our tongue saying that the tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruits. The third and final scripture is my guiding scriptures whenever I gave safety talks to religious groups especially Christians. I am still searching for the appropriate scripture from the Holy Koran to strike a balance and meet the yearnings of the readers and publics. The third is Ecclesiastes 7:17, and it says, Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish; why shouldest thou die before thy time?

Despite these powerful Godly and Fatherly worry and instructions, a handful of motorists drive with a death wish on their mind. Some know these scriptures but care less about the consequences of their bad driving habits. Others don’t or better still feign ignorance. If you call them suicide driven motorists or maniac on the wheels, you won’t be wrong. These motorists drive as if they have a special immunity or what in our parlance; we call jazz or juju which promises false protection in the event of a crash. Today, I have chosen to guide such motorists on the best way to hit the ground and depopulate the driving population and meet their maker or devilish mentor. Truth is that I hate bad drivers; I equally detest reckless and irresponsible drivers who litter our roads daily. These are the drivers who will insult, assault and threaten to run you over for the audacity to pull them over. These drivers are seen daily creating additional lanes even when it is obvious that there is only one lane. They take delight in committing all kinds of traffic infraction and become a law unto them self. They forget that deaths and injuries during the EMBER MONTHS are caused by such driving tendencies.

They forget God’s concern for their lives and the divine injunction contained in the Ten Commandments which says, thou shall not kill. They forget that there is a consequence for killing, including killing yourself .They also forgets the concern of the Nigerian government to protect their lives on the road, through the activities of the Federal Road Safety Corps which for the past 27years has consistently warned against such bad driving. Even the ones who are parents forget that between 19-28, December, 2013,55 children were killed,227 injured and 489 involved in road crashes. They equally forget that the World Health Organisation (WHO) is worried that( 1.24 million)one million and twenty-four thousand deaths occur on the world’s road annually with over 50 million injuries sustained through avoidable road traffic crashes. WHO is also worried that people under the ages of 25years die at an average of more than 1,000 deaths a day. The figure says WHO, is worse in the sub- Saharan Africa which although accounts for four percent of world vehicle, accounts for over sixty percent of global crashes. According to The Global status report on road safety 2013 from 182 countries, accounting for almost 99% of the world’s population, including Nigeria, road traffic deaths remains 1.24 million per year. As at 2014, the figure stands at 1.3million. Only 28 countries, covering 7% of the world’s population, have comprehensive road safety laws on five key risk factors: drinking and driving, speeding, and failing to use motorcycle helmets, seat-belts, and child restraints. Nigeria through the activities of the Federal Road Safety Corps is among these countries.

The report further states that another 20 to 50million sustain non- fatal injuries. These injuries and deaths have an immeasurable impact on the families affected and their communities. Road traffic injuries are estimated to be the eighth leading cause of death globally, with an impact similar to that caused by diseases, such as malaria and remain the leading cause of death for young people aged 15–29years, and as a result take a heavy toll on those entering their most productive years. Yearly, 400,000people under the ages of 25years die at an average of more than 1000 a day. These deaths are more in low and middle income countries among vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclist, motorcyclist and those using public transport. Speeding remains the single most common traffic violations and explains why the Federal Road Safety Corps has fixed mid 2015 as deadline for enforcement of speed limiters in vehicles beginning with commercial vehicles. The use of phone while driving, dangerous driving, unlicensed and under aged driving are also prevalent violations, in addition to lane indiscipline among others.

Economically, the report notes that disadvantaged families are hardest hit by both direct medical costs and indirect costs such as lost wages that result from these injuries. At the national level, road traffic injuries weans the national purse particularly in  developing economies and are estimated to cost low-and middle-income countries between 1–2% of their gross national product, estimated at over US$100billion a year. Despite these facts, road safety has  been neglected not just in terms of policy formulation but also in terms of resource allocation and individual responsibility despite the fact that road traffic injuries are largely preventable. Although road traffic injuries is projected to become the ?fth  leading cause of death by2030, if nothing concrete is done, corporate and individual engagement is still not in the magnitude needed to make a significant difference.

The African region has the highest road fatality rates with 37 of the 44 countries surveyed having death rates  well above the  global average of 18.0 deaths per 100,000population.While the region accounts for 2% of the worlds vehicles, it contributes 16% to the global deaths with young men as the most vulnerable. Most countries lack policies for protecting vulnerable road users. And most are yet to enact comprehensive laws concerning the major risk factors such as speed, drink driving, helmet use, seat belt use and child restraint. Post crash is either inadequate or lacking while law enforcement is weak or ineffective.