• Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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BusinessDay

Driving safely into 2022

Driving safely into 2022

The Yuletide Season is upon us. It is a season of joy, love, sharing and reunions. Unfortunately, it is also a time of pain and tears for many families. This is because of the sharp rise in the incidence of road accidents.

According to the World Health Organization’s 2021 report, 1.3 million people lose their lives in road accidents in the world and between 20 and 50 million people suffer non-fatal injuries, with many incurring a disability as a result of their injuries. Developing countries like Nigeria contribute more to these unfortunate statistics and intercity journeys during the end of the year holidays account for a disproportionate number of accidents.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in its Road Transport Data Report for the third quarter (Q3), 2020), revealed that not less than 3,066 road accidents in Nigeria occurred in the third quarter of 2020 while noting that 1,236 lives were lost in the accidents. Besides being a tragedy for many families, the loss of breadwinners, workers and professionals is also a burden to the economy.

According to the NBS report, speed violation was recorded as the major cause of the accidents in Q3 2020, accounting for 57.26 per cent of the total road crashes reported. Wrongful overtaking closely followed speed limit violation, accounting for 7.11 per cent of the total road crashes recorded, while dangerous overtaking recorded the least of the total road crashes reported. Also, worth mentioning among the causes of road accidents during the festive seasons are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, poor weather, fatigue, signs and light violations, sleeping on the steering, the use of mobile phones while driving and overloading.

Read also: Unilever Nigeria trains logistics partners on safe driving and safety

In 2019, Lafarge teamed up with the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Lagos State Blood Transfusion Services and the Rotary Club of Lagos as part of its Global Health and Safety Days to deliver a health and safety sensitization programme for motorists in Lagos State. It also launched a blood donation drive by its employees as part of this initiative.

In 2020, Lafarge committed N130 million to train drivers in Lafarge Driving Institute. Our objective is that they not only deliver our products safely and in good condition but that they serve as a model for safe driving to fellow truck drivers and other drivers on Nigerian roads all through the year.

Lafarge has also extended its road safety campaign to provide good quality roads in Nigeria. It signed a road-building partnership agreement with the Cross-River State government to build a 38km concrete road connecting its local cement plant to a wider road network. The project is also a contribution by Lafarge to the development of Cross Rivers State as it would make the roads safer for citizens and visitors alike. The road will divert trucks away from busy roads in the city centre.

In 2021, to further reaffirm the company’s commitment towards affordable and clean energy (SDG7), the company launched a new set of 52 Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) fuelled trucks. In addition, Lafarge Africa announced the graduation of its first set of female drivers from the Lafarge Driving Institute (LDI) in Calabar, Cross River State. This reiterates Lafarge Africa’s commitment to inclusive workplaces for women, a deliberate pledge to Gender Diversity, all-around safety on Nigerian roads through the availability of qualified drivers within its operations, and the creation of jobs around its host communities.

With the higher volume of vehicles and articulated trucks on the road during festive periods, the Federal Road Safety Service Corps (FRSC) mount more patrols on the highways for enhanced monitoring of driving and vehicle violations. While these patrols will significantly improve driving behaviours, the accountability for overall safety rests on all our road users. Increased safety consciousness amongst drivers and widespread adherence to driving regulations is thus a more promising way of reducing road accidents.

Wherever you are driving during the upcoming holiday season, please, commit yourself to a few safe driving tips.

Never drive under the influence

A major contributory factor to road crashes and road deaths in the world is driving under the influence of alcohol. If you are going to a Christmas party and you plan to take a drink or two and be merry, do not drive. It is advisable you stay the night or plan a safe alternative to get home such as taking a cab or ensuring a designated driver who does not drink all night to take you home. Did you know that even in the morning after you have slept, you could still be drunk and over the limit? Do not get behind the wheels if you have to go out. It is a sad fact that many people drive drunk during the yuletide, so be extra vigilant of other drivers, pedestrians and other road users!

Slow down

You may be tempted to speed in a rush to get to a Christmas party or do your Christmas shopping before the malls close. Do not forget that police presence is greater on the roads during the day and night throughout the yuletide, and a speeding ticket and possible accidents are most likely not on your holiday wish list. You can be courteous to follow the rules on the road, but other drivers may not be. Therefore, do not drive your vehicle like you own the road. Never try to imitate other drivers and try to avoid aggressive drivers as much as you can. A lot of accidents happen on freeways. You should never try to recklessly pull into someone else’s lane. Learn to become a defensive driver rather than being aggressive. Drive within the prescribed speed limits on the various roads.

Wear your seat belt

In a crash, wearing your seat belt can reduce your risk of dying by about half or more. Always buckle up!!! Ensure that young passengers are buckled into appropriate safety seats in the vehicle. Do not be confident about your safety because of your car air safety bags. Note that car accidents could be deadly even with increased safety features in vehicles.

Watch out for emergency vehicles

Every second counts in an emergency. Be sure to pull off to the side of the road when you hear a siren, this would allow the ambulance, police car or fire truck go through uninterrupted. You just might be saving a life if you adhere to this rule.

Carry an emergency kit

Ensure that you are always prepared. Items that would come in handy if you are stranded on the side of the road or involved in a motor accident must be available in your emergency kit. Should you need to call for help, have an emergency support number ready. Most mobile phones are designed to allow users save and auto-dial numbers for medical assistance, relatives, and other details like blood group amongst others. This information may become the thin line between life and death in a life-threatening situation.

Pull off the road if you feel tired

If you feel tired or your eyes shutting, do not try to drive; you could put yourself or others at risk if you fall asleep while driving. Take turns driving if there is another licensed person in the vehicle. You can also stop regularly to take breaks.

Forget your mobile phone

The use of cell phones while driving increases the risk of causing a crash. Avoid the use of cell phones, earphones or headphones while driving.

Keep a distance from another vehicle

Most cars come up with a powerful braking system but still, you should maintain a distance from other vehicles which are moving ahead of you. What is a safe distance? Follow the 3-second rule. Find a stationary object on the side of the road; a lamppost for example. When the car ahead of you passes the lamppost, start counting. At least 3 seconds should pass before your car passes the same lamppost. In a more hazardous condition with reduced visibility or tyre grip, the safe distance must be doubled. Keeping a safe distance gives you enough time to stop should the driver in front of you suddenly step on the brakes.

Remember, your goal is to get to your destination in one piece and return to your base in 2022. Let this goal drive you as you travel during the Yuletide. Today’s cars may be equipped with modern technology and more safety features but it is still the human brain behind the wheels. Please, let your thoughts focus on your loved ones and your great plans for your work and your family in 2022 and beyond as you drive around Nigeria during the festive period.

Odegbami is the head, Health, Safety and Environment at Lafarge Africa Plc