Between January and November, 2012, excessive speed, accounted for about 35 per cent of crashes recorded in the country. Within the last seven months of 2013, speed violation, according to Osita Chidoka, Corps Marshal and Chief Executive of the Federal Road Safety Corps, accounted for about 65 per cent of the causative factors of road crashes and fatalities.
Between January and June, 2013, a total of 1397 buses were involved in road traffic crashes killing 1437 and injuring 6831 persons. The report for 2012 and 2013 also indicates that loss of control which is directly linked to speeding was equally a risk factor within the same period. Summed together, excessive speeding remains the biggest obstacle to the Corps 2013 goals of cutting down crashes by 20 per cent and fatalities by 30 per cent.In the words of the FRSC boss, the nation has suffered enough trauma from road carnage caused by drivers who get unnecessarily thrilled by speed... noting in his welcome address during the second stakeholders forum in Abuja," that speed governors are the most cost effective way of curtailing them".
As part of efforts to initially address this in 2012,the Corps organised the first stakeholders meeting on speed limiting in December, resulting in the setting of a technical committee comprising relevant stakeholders such as the Nigerian Institute for Transport Technology, National Union of Road Transport Workers, NigerianAssociations of Road Transport Owners, representatives of Nigerian Society of Engineers, National Automotive Council, Advocacy groups, Transport Secretariat of the Federal Capital Territory, Nigeria Police and the Directorate of Road Traffic Services, FCT. A sub technical committee with technical bias was further constituted with the following as members; Nigeria Society of Engineers, Nigeria Institute of Transport Technology, National Automotive Council, Standard Organisation of Nigeria, Commercial Banks, Nigeria Police, Directorate of Road Traffic Services, Nigeria Customs Service, Consultants and Engineer Zedomi,former Board Chairman of National Automotive Council. The sub-committee considered models from Kenya, Britain and Australia and came out with a Nigerian model. The draft document produced is presently with SON for consideration and approval. In the draft, the Corps shall be the authorised body to approve dealership on speed limiting device while other enforcement agencies are to synergise in enforcement to ensure total compliance.
As a build up to the first stakeholders forum, an extensive second stakeholders forum was held again in Abuja on September 4, 2013.Between 9-13 September, 2013, simultaneous platforms were held in all the 36 States as part of measures to sensitise stakeholders and the public on the traffic implications of speed violation and the need for drivers to install speed limiting devices in their vehicles. Before I dwell on the outcomes of these deliberations, permit me to refresh you with the first stakeholder's forum after which I hope to run series of contributions by others.
To redress the burden of excessive speeding, the Corps held a one day stakeholders forum with Leon Du Plessis, an expert on vehicle speed limiting device from South Africa as guest speaker. Frank Nneji, Chief Executive Officer of ABC Transport, whose safety philosophy in the transport sector with respect to speed remains a model, was also in attendance.
The issue of speed has been identified by WHO as a key risk factor in road traffic injuries, influencing both the risk of a crash as well as the severity of the injuries that result from crashes. In fact, WHO and the Global Road Safety Partnership in its publication-speed Management; a Road Safety Manual for Decisions Makers and Practitioners, 2008 recommended that speed limit be introduced in every country as part of the global strategy to cut down road fatatlities.Osita Chidoka in his opening address noted that there was the need to intimate the public, drivers and fleet operators on the importance of speed limiting device in vehicles' as a means of achieving safe driving on our roads. He noted that by slowing down vehicles, the travel risk for all motorists may be lowered by reducing the number of collisions and mitigating the severity of those that do occur. He equally referred to the provisions of the National Road Traffic Regulations, 2004, which specifies the speed limit allowed on our roads, citing that developed countries such as Canada, United States and Britain have since adopted the compulsory use of speed limiter/governor as a means of eliminating speed related road crashes on their roads.
What is the relationship between speed and crash? Before I continue with this, please allow me share this expensive joke by the guest speaker. Said he, "there are many jokes on the issue of speed but this one interest me; that at a speed of 120,God himself would get out of the vehicle for His own safety. However, at over the speed of 120, angels would get out while at about 160km/ph, even the devil would jump out of the vehicle." The pointlessness of speed was equally underscored by Frank Nneji who noted that, increase in speed gives you no advantage over your arrival but rather increases the risk of not arriving at all.
Excessive speeding is defined as exceeding the speed limit while inappropriate speed is defined as driving at a speed unsuitable for the prevailing road and traffic conditions. Excess and inappropriate speeds are responsible for a high proportion of the mortality and morbidity that result from road crashes. In some low and middle income countries, speed is estimated to be the main contributory factor in about 50percent of all crashes. Excessive speeding decreases drivers' response time in an event and may increase the risk of a crash. It equally reduces the ability to manoeuvre safely on the road, extends the distance necessary to stop a vehicle. This is because, the higher the speed of a vehicle, the shorter the time a driver has to stop and avoid a crash. For example, a car travelling at 50km/h will typically require 1meter in which to stop, while a car travelling at 40km/h will stop in less than 8.5metres.An increase in average speed of 1km/h typically results in a 3pecent higher risk of a crash involving injury, with a 4percent-5percent increase for crashes that results in fatalities. Speed also contributes to the severity of the impact when a collision does occur. For car occupants in a crash with an impact speed of 80km/h,the likelihood of death is 20times what it would have been at a impact sped of 30km/h.
The relationship between speed and injury severity is particularly critical for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclist. For example, pedestrians have shown to have a 90perent chance of survival when struck by a car travelling at 30km/h or below, but less than 0percent chance of surviving an impact at 45km/h.Pedestrians have almost no chance of surviving an impact of 80km/h.
What this means is that controlling vehicle speed can prevent crashes from happening and can reduce the impact when they do occur, lessening the severity of injuries sustained by the victims. This was the trust of this forum. In effect, excessive speed increases risk of crash, higher fuel consumption, increased wear on suspension, increasesd wear n brakes and tyres and shortened mechanical life of the vehicle.
Speed limiters are not new as they have proved their worth over time. Speed limiters in Europe and Great Britain dates back to Feb, 1992 when through a Council directive 62/6/EEC required speed limiters in certain categories of vehicles. By Nov 2002 the European Parliament and the Council Directive 2002/85/EC extending the range of vehicles to be fitted while in January 2007,it extended to more categories of vehicles. Within Africa, Tanzania, Kenya followed suit in 2003, while Uganda in 2004, Zambia in 2006 and Ontario and Quebec took their turns in 2009.
Are there scientific proofs? According to the Canadian Department of Transport, there are environmental, safety and cost benefits. For example, lower fuel consumption reduces greenhouse gas emissions and saves money on fuel consumption. A study on Ontario Canada showed that fixing speed limiters to all heavy trucks would save about 100million litres of fuel a year-the equivalent of 280,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. The study further shows that the risk of collision is reduced when driving at lower speeds while safety of road users is assured..Driving at higher speed induces major stress that results in driver fatigue and loss of concerntraton.Installing speed d limiters will reduce the operating costs of many transporters by reducing fuel consumption and increasing vehicle energy efficiency.
WHO and the Global Road Safety Partnership in a publication titled "Speed Management: a Road Safety Manual for Decision Makers and Practitioners", has recommended that speed limits be introduced in every country as part of the global strategy to cut down road fatalities. Interestingly, the Corps Marshal also stated that the forum was arranged because of the need to educate the public, drivers and fleet operators on the importance of speed limiting devices in vehicles as a means of achieving safer road use. With the crash trend last year and the improved road network, the Corps' greatest challenge in 2013 will be on how to tackle excessive speeding. As stated earlier, the United Nations in its Pillar 4 stresses the need to develop comprehensive programmes to improve road user behaviour. These activities include the development and adoption of model road safety legislation and sustained or increased enforcement of road safety laws and standards. These efforts should be combined with public awareness and education to increase seat-belt usage and helmet wearing and to reduce drinking and driving, speeding and other risks. Other activities include reducing work related road traffic injuries and promoting the establishment of graduated driver licensing programmes for novice drivers.
For emphasis,what really is speed? Speed, according to Adewale Akande, in a paper "EXCESSIVE SPEED AS A VITAL HUMAN FACTOR IN ROAD TRAFFIC ACCIDENT" is defined as exceeding the posted limit or driving too fast under stipulated or normal conditions. Speeding is deemed to have occurred when an individual is travelling above the accepted legal speed limit on any road. Speed limit varies between roads. For example, the maximum speed on the expressway is 100km/h for private cars and 90km/h for taxis and buses. Trailers and tankers have a maximum speed of 60km/h while tow vehicles when towing are expected to do 45km/h and 70km/h when not towing. The speed for a highway ranges from 80km/h for private vehicles, 80km/h for taxis and buses and 45km/h for towing vehicle. In a built up area, the speed could be between 20 or 30km/h to 50km/h. It is the obligation of the traffic law to signify any change in speed between routes. Speed limits are introduced to promote greater road safety and prevent environmental pollution such as noise and smoke.
In a safety research conducted by the Centre for Automotive Safety Research at Adelaide University in South Australia few years ago, it was found that for every 5 kilometers per hour, increases in vehicles speed over the limit in a 60 Kilometer per hour zone, the risks of crashing doubles. The research explains further that a driver traveling at 70 kilometers per hour faces four times the risk of a driver travelling at the speed limit. Further researches on excessive speed states that, when the stopping distances increases other maneuvers to avoid crashes become more difficult and complicated. It states that gravity or severity of an impact or crashes increases with higher speed and the possibility for other road users to communicate and perceive the intentions of the road-users in time to react appropriately decrease as does the ability to detect hazards.
Excessive speed was critical in last year's crashes. Speeding is often a deliberate and calculated behaviour where the driver knows the risk but ignores the danger that might be involved. . The Corps major challenge will be to enforce traffic laws on over speeding without any bias or exceptions especially as it affects executive recklessness.
Speed laws have are penal codes in some countries and dangerous or reckless driver are charged fines, lose all points from his driving license or liable to many years in imprisonment if found guilty. Much as the FRSC has the point system in the works, its implementation should be fast-tracked in order to achieve the goal of reducing fatalities by 50 percent by the year 2020.
Most importantly, to achieve the goal of tackling the speed factor, relevant government departments, public health, the judiciary, non-governmental organizations, the media and motorists have role to play
This speed campaign has been adopted by Tanzania in 2003, Kenya in the same 2003, and Uganda in 2004 and Zambia in 2006.The examples from these African countries speaks of success despite initial hiccups. For example, the Kenyan Government implemented compulsory speed limiters, on all public service vehicles and heavy good vehicles in 2003. Since November, 2003 fatal injuries in public service vehicles reduced by approximately 70 percent. The result was A very positive impact on the country's national economy, gross domestic product. Insurance companies subsequently reduced insurance premiums as a result of reduced accident claims while Commuters enjoyed safer travelling conditions. Hospitals were less crowded and could give better attention to other patients. Equally, there was reduced national health expenditure on road accident injuries, Vehicles lasted longer with Lower fuel consumption due to reduced speed and Reduction in harmful emissions.
Zambian story where government added specification to make speed limiters tamperproof is also worth noting. It required the vehicle to be immobilized if any electric circuit of the speed limited is cut. In addition, Zambia introduced a method of easy inspection by Police to determine if a speed limiter is operational. It consisted of a hand held inspection tool which connects to an extended socket of the speed limiter inside the vehicle. These measures have proven to be effective.Recently Kenya government introduced the same additional specification as Zambia, but added to it, the requirement of a speed recording device. It records data of vehicle road speed for at least 8 hours and stores it in non-volatile memory. The data is extracted from the speed recording devise by USB from laptop. This is done at road side inspections to verify the speed limiter's operation and can also be used to investigate the causes of accidents. As we prepare we might note these experiences.