ASSESSMENT OF HIGHWAY ROAD TRAFFIC CRASHES IN KADUNA STATE, NIGERIA
Highway Road Traffic Crashes (HRTC) is a global phenomenon that affect all strata of human life, which have become a reoccurring problem that constitutes a burden to road users in Kaduna State, and Nigeria in general. It has been acknowledged that road traffic crashes occurred due to violations of rules and regulations of traffic on highways in Nigeria, which have become a national problem, particularly in Kaduna State. However, the nature, rate and frequency of these road crashes are frightening which down played the dignity and value of human lives and the destruction of property. The study objectives examined the nature, causes, consequence of highway road traffic crashes as well as remedies. Domino theory was adopted in the study to explain and analyze road traffic crashes. Qualitative and Quantitative methods of data collection were employed for the study. The data was analyzed manually and electronically using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 21.0. The findings from non- participant observation, and in-depth interview were synergized and triangulated. The study found out that the highest road traffic crashes occurred on Kaduna-Abuja expressway. The study further revealed that commercial drivers between the age brackets of 18 – 45 years were mostly involved and perpetuated in HRTC. The findings revealed that over speeding, dangerous over taking and the used of cell-phone and other devices used while driving were the most frequent causes of HRTC among commercial vehicle drivers. And that NURTW/ NARTO members did not contribute to HRTC occurrence. The study found out that guilty perpetrators/ offenders were to be jailed for 5 years imprisonment, to serve as deterrent to others. It is evident that road traffic crashes are very common on Nigerian roads due to excessive speed, dangerous over taking, lack of road worthiness of vehicles and the use of cell phones. In view of this, the study recommended that (FRSC) Rs 1.1 Kaduna Sector Command, (NP) and KASTELEA should provide the public with special law enforcement hotlines numbers that individuals can call and report plate numbers, model and colour of cars when drivers are found wanting. This could be achieved by partnering with NURTW / NARTO in collaboration with Kaduna State Media Corporation Capital Sound 90.9FM, through her Oga driver radio road safety daily talk show. The study found that most vehicles were not road worthy. In view of this, the study recommended that only vehicles certified by road safety agencies should ply Nigerian roads, those found wanting should have their vehicles impounded after drivers have received second booking.
Background to the Study
Highway Road Traffic Crashes (HRTC) is a global phenomenon that affects all strata of human life, which has become a reoccurring social problem that constitutes a burden to road users in Kaduna State, in particular and Nigeria in general. Ugbebor (2014) found that road crashes do not just happen; they are caused by unsafe Acts such as Pedestrians carelessness, example conversation on the road, phone calls while crossing the highway and unsafe conditions such as darkness and inclement conditions, poor conditions of vehicles, road potholes or flood on highways among others. It has been observed by Federal Road Safety Commission Rs 1.1 Kaduna State Sector Command in (2016) that before, the concept accident was in use, but has been replaced with crashes inline with global usage. They noted that crash were caused by human, mechanical and environmental factors, unlike an accident, when it occurs, it happens surdenly with no human external influence.
David (1999) is of the opinion that automobiles revolution has led to high vehicle aquisation by a larger population, leading to an increase in statistics of vehicular crashes in the course of transportation of persons and goods on roads which inflict loss of lives and properties. However, public outcry of the causes of road crashes has continually attributed it either to the will of God or evil spirits while ignoring the scientific approach to its causes.Thus, reckless and bad driving culture among motorist has led to various injuries or deaths on highways due to traffic violations (Balogun, 2006).
Elvik (2004) viewed crashes as a sudden and unintentional event that results in damage of property or environment, while Hollnagel (2004) sees road crashes as a short, sudden and unexpected event or occurrence that results in an unwanted outcome in the course of transporting persons and goods by motorist, which usually leads to traffic violatons thereby resulting in vehicle crashes and loss of lives and properties.The problems of highway road crashes and road safety has not been given serious attention in developing nations unlike developed nations. Global statistical report as indicated by Murray and Lopez (1996) cited in Ugbebor (2014) shows that a proportionate share of 85% – 90% of land transport fatalities occur in the developing world when compared to the developed nations. Most deaths in land transport occur on the road affects drivers, travelers and pedestrians and this constitutes a public safety problem which requires urgent attention (Ugbebor, 2014).
HRTC is ranked the 9th leading cause of mortality and morbidity, and account for 21% of all global death and disability. This makes motor vehicle crashes a leading cause of injury or death for people from 5 to 32 years old. Young people also have the highest crash rate of all drivers (World Book Encyclopedia, 2002). The burden of global death resulting from HRTC is on the increase. According to United Nations study in 2003, statistics on road traffic crashes indicate that more than 1.3 million people are killed every year, a figure which exceeds the number of people killed by AIDs, hepatitis or malaria Akpoghomeh (2012:12). Further global reports shows that India has 105,000 traffic deaths in a year, followed by China with over 96,000 deaths. While in United States of America (USA), 45,800 persons were killed and another 2.4million injured as a result of vehicle collision, in 2005.Thus, making highway road crashes the 6th leading preventable causes of death in the United States (US) (Akpoghomeh, 2012:13).
Road traffic cashes occurred first in the United Kingdom (UK) on 31st August 1869 with Irish scientist Mary Ward as the first road crash victim in the world. Similarly, Bridget Driscoll was the first pedestrian victim on 17th August 1896 in Croydon, Surrey (UK) (Egonu, 1998; Akpoghomeh, 2012). Nigeria experienced her first road crash in Lagos in 1906, ever since, highway road traffic crashes (HRTC) have been acknowledged generally in developed and developing countries as not only a major killer but in Nigerian as a national problem. Fatalities resulting from highway road crashes in Africa have reached alarming proportion. Adedeji (1989) notes that the fatality rate per vehicle registered on African highways ranged from eight to fifty times higher than what is registered in industrialized nation (WHO, 2006).
Pedestrian and young road users have been identified as highly vulnerable groups, for instance, road traffic crashes involving children less than 15 years vary from 35 percent in Addis-Ababa to 40 percent in Abidjan (David, 1999). The current road safety situation in Nigeria using the 2007 data, indicates that there were about 32.3 fatalities per 100,000 population as compared to 10 in the western world (5.4/100,000 for US). Also in 2007, Nigeria ranked 150 out of 175 on country fatalities per 100,000 population; 149th in 2009, and 127th in 2011 (FRSC, 2012 cited in Akpoghomeh (2012). Similarly, a highway road traffic crashes reported by FRSC, 2002-2010 on Tankers and Trailers drivers in Kaduna State revealed a total of 4,017 crashes, with 4,076 deaths, 12,994 injured resulting to 17,070 fatal casaulties, with a total of 26,362 persons and 5,825 vehicles were involved. A more worrisome road crash report was on State to State comparison of drivers between the periods 2007 and June 2010. These report shows Kaduna State recorded the highest number of road crash death with 463 representing (11.36%), also the State had the highest number of injuries with 1,375
representing 10.56%. Within the same period, Kaduna State recorded the highest figure of casaulties with 1,838 (10.77%).
Furthermore, according to Punch Newspapers report of 16 August (2012), caption 18 die in Kaduna – Abuja road traffic crash. Similarly, other report by Premium times Newspaper of 14, October (2013) shows that 7 persons were feared death, 11 injured Birnin-Gwari – Kaduna highway. In spite of the number of lives being lost on daily bases on highways, HRTC has not received the required attention as motor vehicle crashes have become a leading cause of death and disability in Nigeria and in Kaduna state in particular (Callistus, 2008). The problem is that road traffic crashes are preventable, but motorist and pedestrians continue to violate rules and regulations of traffic, as well as ignored safety measures which may be attributed to lack of enforcement by road safety law enforcement agencies on perpertrators on highways due to weak policies. This has led to crashes. Thus, over 4,700 cases of crashes are recorded annually in Nigeria, translating to about 4 casaulties (killed or injured) per crash. The World Bank Report (2010 ) once classified Nigerian roads among the greatest death- traps in the world due to high frequency of Highway Road Crashes, resulting in loss of lives,which have been acknowledge as national problem and source of concern (Akpoghomeh, 2012:14). The problems of victims cut across all groups without any regards for social class or status. Against this backdrop, this study is an assessment of highway road traffic crashes in Kaduna State, Nigeria is conducted with a view to bridging the gap.