Daily Trust (Abuja)

21 October 2012

Nigeria: FRSC Annual Lecture Series So Far ...

Neil Schuster is an American. He is not a Nollywod actor but a road safety crusader and practitioner. If you like, you can liken him to Frank Nneji, the CEO of ABC who for years has left his mark in the transport and safety industry.

Schuster will be guest speaker on November 1st, 2012 when the Federal Road Safety Corps 4th Annual Lecture Series hold in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja with the theme: Safe and Sustainable Transportation: Lessons For Nigeria. Schuster's records are intimidating; Since August 2007,he had held forth as President and CEO of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators' non-for-profit association representing motor vehicle and law enforcement agencies in North America.

AAMVA helps agencies in 69 jurisdictions in the US and Canada to develop best practices to improve road safety and ensure the security and accuracy of driver's license and other identification credentials and reduce motor vehicle title fraud.

AAMVA is dedicated to reducing road crashes and fatalities, and works with a number of other safety, law enforcement and motor carriers partners. Remember that over the years, the FRSC has passionately urged the various State Governors to set up State Motor Vehicle Administration Agencies as strategic ploy to drive our safety strategy across board.

Till date, only a handful of States such as Lagos and Ogun have sincerely done this which will go a long way to save the lives of citizens. Other States are still "foot-dragging" on this novel initiative by the Corps. This explains why Schuster is significant to us in many ways especially because we so easily cite the American Federation as an example to emulate only when it suits particular interests instead of looking at the bigger picture.

Before joining AAMVA, Schuster who holds an MBA from the University of Colorado with a major in transportation management and a BA in Economics from the Brooklyn College, was President and CEO of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America for six years. The Society is equally a non-profit association whose members constitute a broad range of public and private sector interest pursuing safe and congestion-free travel through safety and other technologies that connect drivers and vehicles with infrastructure systems. He revamped ITS America's operations during a time of change and assisted the organisation in a major Board and committee governance restructure.

Schuster also held positions in the Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association, representing automakers on international trade and investment matters, and with the American Waterways Operators, where he created a research programme for the group, which represents inland barge operations.

He also served as Executive Director of the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association for 16years.This association represents toll agencies in 25 countries. At IBTTA, he launched the organisations first strategic plan, created an electronic toll collection programme and established a government relations and advocacy programme.

Since the series began in 2009 the Federal Road Safety Corps, has kept faith with the spirit and the letters of the initiatives meant to tilt the need for increases in public consciousness on road safety. In 2011, the third series which took place in Abuja was woven around the UN decade of action on road safety with a specific focus on stimulating public discourse on road safety as a core element for national growth with the theme: "Achieving the Decade of Action on Road Safety 2011-2020"and with specific focus on "Integrating Road Safety into National Development".

At the 2011 gathering which had the Vice President, Arch Namadi Sambo as special guest while the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu was chairman, the leaning was to leverage on the fallouts of the 2009 and 2010 versions of the annual lecture to further advocate for increased public consciousness on road safety with Professor Richard Tay, Adjutant Professor in Transport Engineering and Injury Prevention at the University of Calgary as guest speaker on the topic " Road Safety- National Development Strategies" with the aim of addressing the socio-economic costs of road crashes and implications on national development, in addition to its multiplier effects on other sectors of the economy such as Agriculture, Power, Petroleum and Gas, Tourism, Mining and other areas.

An Associate Dean (Research) and Chair in Road Safety Management, Prof Richard has also previously held academic appointments at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, Chinese University in Hong Kong, Lincoln University in New Zealand and Queensland University of Technology in Australia. He was also a visiting scholar in Sloan School of Management at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in USA.

His research and teaching involves the application of engineering, health, economics, management, marketing, psychology, criminology and statistical models to analyze road crashes and evaluate road safety policies and programs as well as the development, implementation and evaluation of multidisciplinary measures to improve road safety and reduce the social cost of road crashes.

A publisher of over 200 peer reviewed scientific papers, Prof. Tay has also edited several scientific journals including Accident Analysis and Prevention, Journal of Transportation Safety and Security, Journal of Advanced Transportation, Australian College of Road Safety Journal, Applied Health Economics and Health Policy, Open Transportation Journal, Canadian Journal of Transportation, International Journal of Sustainable Transportation and Transportation Research.

He is also an award winner of numerous research grants from competitive national research granting agencies like the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Australian Research Council, National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, as well as government departments and multinational corporations like Transport Canada, Alberta Transportation, Capital Health, City of Calgary, Centre for Transportation Engineering and Planning, Queensland Transportation, Victorian Department of Justice, etc.

One thing has stood out in the series and will further unfold in this year's event; that is the presence of accomplished personalities in the global field of transport management and road safety whose experiences in this direction, can be leveraged on by the Corps and other stakeholders in the transport sector especially, States Commissioner for Transport whose attendance is expected to trigger-off a seamless establishment of Traffic Agencies in their various areas of jurisdiction in order to put other states of the Federation on the same pedestal with Lagos and Ogun in the drive towards a more effective and harmonized traffic management across the country.

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