Leadership (Abuja)

1 January 2014

Nigeria: FRSC's Alarming Statistics

editorial

The Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) has just released alarming statistics of accidents involving children during the yuletide period. According to the commission, no less than 20 children died in road mishaps between December 19 and 28, 2013. Also, 75 others were injured in road crashes involving 239 children, even as 144 of them were rescued alive.

The interpretation of this is that the nation lost 20 children in about nine days. From that information by the FRSC, it may be deduced that most of these deaths were the result of carelessness on the part of parents and other drivers, who did not apply appropriate safety measures. The commission, therefore, warned parents and other drivers who convey children in their vehicles, to ensure that they are properly restrained. The commission also warned that children under the age of 12 should be restrained in the rear seats, because in the event of an accident, air bags can injure or even kill them. It stressed that the use of child restraints reduces the likelihood and severity of injuries to them.

In the same statistics, it stated that restraining children reduces the chances of death among infants by approximately 70 per cent and deaths among small children by between 54 and 80 per cent. To check this at this period of festivities and beyond, FRSC has mandated its officers to intensify the enforcement of traffic rules as they affect the safety of children.

Without doubt, these deaths would have been avoided if necessary steps were taken by the adults concerned to safeguard the children. Curiously, car owners, parents especially, when conveying their children in their cars unwittingly expose them to possible but avoidable mishaps. This they do by showing them off in their front seats, often without safety measures like strapping them with safety belts. These children are allowed to stand on the seat and rest on the dashboard, in some cases, with the windows wound down. What that means is that in the event of a crash, the child would either smash his head on the windscreen, be thrown out of the car by the impact, or fatally hit or suffocated by the air bag.

We totally agree with the FRSC in its decision on the safety of children in moving vehicles, because we cannot afford to be seen to be 'wasting' our children. Losing 20 in nine days is very unacceptable. Parents owe it as a duty to their children not to give in to them when the cry, kick and demand to stand in the front or even back seat, or sit without restraint.

In our opinion, the interest of the child will be better served if he is made to suffer what may for the time appear to be an inconvenience but stays alive, than if his demands are pandered to, only to lose him at the first impact.

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