Road accidents are a daily occurrence in Nigeria.
Whether it’s in the city, the suburbs or the highway, the story is the same. Automobile crashes are on a permanent increase and with that increase comes the attendant surge in accident-related deaths, injuries and property loss.
The rate at which Nigerians perish in road crashes is to say the least alarming.
The media is permanently awash with stories of road accidents that terminates the lives of hapless Nigerians and inflict grevious temporary and oftentimes permanent injuries on some others.
The factors that contribute to this excessive carnage on Nigerian roads are multi-faceted. Rarely is an accident due to a particular causative factor, various combinations of the below listed tends to play a part in the eventual sad outcomes.
Poor construction and non-maintenance are the dominant reasons for the bad roads. The poor state of the road is further heightened during the rainy season. Roads are flooded, weak portions of barely passable roads are washed away and flood water sometimes obstructs the perils of hidden potholes and gullies on the highway.
Someone once said that in Nigeria, you don’t have roads with pot-holes. You have pot-holes with roads – meaning that the number of pot-holes significantly overrides the usefulness of the roads.
The result is drivers losing control during driving while trying to navigate the flooded, treacherous part of the roads that conceal potholes, thereby contributing their own damage quota to the already hight rate of road accidents.
Faster, faster, faster! In Nigeria every vehicle is in a hurry. Over speeding reduces the time a driver has to react to an emergency that requires instant precise control of the vehicle. A loss of control at high speed is a prelude to a crash.
Disregard of road signs
Road signs displaying speed limits are almost non-existent on most roads and where they exist, they are viewed by drivers as inconveniences and ignored.
Combine poor condition of roads and wanton selective disregard of road signs, the result is an unreasonably high accidents rate.
Commercial vehicles in Nigeria are the majority of road users. They are also infamous for their penchant to cram every available space with passengers and cargo.
An overladen vehicle would have sacrificed a major portion of it’s structural integrity.
Due to the increased load, braking and cornering abilities are compromised and in the event of an accident, the added mass results in a crash with more vehicular deformity than average.
Bad driving habits
Nigerian motor parks are a vibrant environment, select choose of food, snacks and refreshments are often available for drivers and commuters. Sadly, high-alcohol content drinks are sold too.
A driver who consumes excessive alcohol and takes the wheel while intoxicated is gambling with his own life and that of his hapless passengers.
When drivers drink and drive, they become dangerous and cause accidents
As if navigating the bad roads is not challenging enough. Drivers take delight in reckless speeds, offer unmindful of the perils of what failed brakes or blown tyres may likely result in if a failure occurs.
A busy road demands extra care during overtaking. A driver that refuses to ensure that there is no oncoming traffic or takes delight in overtaking in corners where oncoming traffic are obstructed is actively endangering not only his own life, but that of his passengers and that of other road users.
Driving at night with poor headlights
Visibility is reduced at night, and so it is expected that drivers who actively ply the roads at night make sure that their headlights are in tip-top shape.
This is not so. Defective headlights has sent many a soul to the great beyond.
The entire weight of a vehicle in addition to the occupants are suspended in the air. Their only contact with the road is through the tyres. The tyres play a crucial part in suspending, accelerating and braking the vehicle.
Tyres that are not properly maintained are an invitation to accidents. It is not uncommon to see accidents partly caused by tyres that are expired, worn out, over/under-inflated and sometimes the wrong sizes.
Nigeria is a tropical country. The rainy season can last in excess of five months. Although windshield wipers are one of the cheapest components on a vehicle, it is common for Nigerian drivers to neglect checking the condition of this crucial component. The result is during heavy rains, visibility will be impaired leading to accidents that could have been avoided. It is therefore an invitation to accidents for a driver to drive in the rain with malfunctioning wipers.
Substandard and fake spare-parts
Vehicles are designed with parts that needs maintenance or outright replacement when used over a period of time. Best practices dictate that only manufacturers approved parts should be used for replacements.
In Nigeria, dealers of motor parts have been known to sell substandard and fake spare parts to unwary motorists. Worse is that evidently, in a bid to lower maintenance costs, some motorists even request for the substandard parts.
Of course, these fake parts will fail without warning contribute to accidents and possibly send their own quota of Nigerians to early graves.
Poor Vehicle Maintenance
While the major vehicle brands in Nigeria maintain a network of authorised service centres. Motorists are reluctant to avail themselves of the quality services that these service centres offer. This is due to the perceived high cost of service centres.
Skimping on parts, using parts beyond recommended service life and repeatedly patronizing road-side mechanics inevitably will turn a serviceable vehicle to a badly maintained contraption that will sooner or later find its way into the accident statistics list.
This list is not exaustive and the resultant loss, sorrow and anguish that accompany each and every road accident resulting from the named factors cannot be fully quantified.
Since driver’s error is notable in majority of the causes of road accidents. It is imperative that drivers should take a more proactive approach to vehicle maintenance, careful driving and be permanently conscious of the fact that each and every driver can contribute in reducing the number of accidents on our roads.