Persons numbering 106,256 were involved in road traffic crashes between January 2019 and December 2021 in Nigeria. Of these, 14,773 died from 31,116 road accidents recorded within the period, according to data released by the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and additional tally on road traffic crashes compiled by Daily Trust.
The data from the FRSC documented road crashes between January 2019 and October 2021, while Daily Trust compiled reported road traffic crashes between November and December 2021.
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Aside from the deaths, 91,483 persons sustained varying degrees of injury in the crashes recorded.
The data shows that 2021 has the highest cases of road traffic crashes, compared with previous years, with 10,637 accidents involving 35,791 people recorded. Of this number, 5,101 people were killed while 30,690 people were rescued with different degrees of injuries.
According to the statistics, Ogun State has the most dangerous roads in the country as the state recorded the highest road traffic crashes with 1,026 cases in 2021. The data also shows that Bayelsa State has the safest roads as it recorded the lowest number of road traffic crashes with 40 cases.
Last year, 10,522 road traffic crashes were recorded between January and December. Breakdown of the data shows that 4,794 persons died while 28, 449 others were injured. The year before it, 2019, was no better though it had the fewest number of road traffic cases in three years with 9,957 cases. But more people died in 2019 (4,878) compared with 2020. The data shows that 32,344 were also injured from road traffic crashes in 2019.
The Public Education Officer of the FRSC, Bisi Kazeem attributed road crashes to several factors including speeding, route violation, mechanical defect, drunk driving and dangerous driving
He said the corps is broadening the scope of sensitisation to change bad driving behaviours and has introduced result-oriented policies, particularly those that will eliminate speed-related crashes since it has been the major cause of crashes at the moment.
“The corps has continually put in place mechanisms that will prevent road crashes. Some of these preventive measures are; enhanced visibility, broadened, strengthened and sustained stakeholders’ engagement and collaboration, improved personnel capacity in road safety management, effective patrol operations, and of course widened public enlightenment campaigns,” he said adding that strategic interventionist approaches are always subjected to reviews to meet the dynamics and challenges of the moment.
But some Nigerians that have lost loved ones to road crashes are demanding more from the government.
An Abuja resident who pleaded anonymity said his brother died in a road crash in Ondo State while travelling to Lagos. He said the event was traumatising as the whereabouts of his brother was unknown for over three days. He said the deceased had only rented an apartment in Lagos hoping to start a new life there, adding that several families would remember the roads for the lives they have taken from them due to several systemic failures of the government and transporters in ensuring safety on the roads.
Adeoye Adeonipekun said though the numbers are huge, they seem not to reflect the true picture of events on Nigerian roads. He said the carnage on Nigerian roads needs urgent attention adding that the government would have done no wrong in declaring a state of emergency on the poor state of the roads. He said there was no day without accidents on Nigerian roads even within the cities.
The Abuja resident said, “There were days that I will be returning from the office and seeing corpses laid by the roadside. There are times you would wonder what happened because the vehicles might not have serious damages. In those moments, I shivered knowing that some families would go to bed without their relatives. If these are happenings within the cities, can you imagine what goes on in hinterland, I can assure you roads linking states, which are with several bad portions, have led to the death of several people not known to road safety officials. These experiences are harrowing.”
He said the attitudes of road users, which included a total disregard for traffic rules also fuel road crashes. “Several motorists use their phone while driving and not just driving, driving more than the designated speed limits. An average Nigerian driver is aggressive and impatient. They somehow see others as a threat,” he said.
Another respondent, Temitope Adeniyi said some Nigerians engage in fasting and prayer sessions before embarking on a road trip due to the rate of accidents. Temitope said some accidents are erroneously attributed to demons whereas there are other factors.
“You can hear road safety officials attributing accidents to demons in Nigeria. But why not fix the roads; ensure a good road culture and sustainable enforcement. Good roads without good road culture could lead to deaths while a bad road with good road culture is also dangerous,” he said.
A transporter who plies Abuja and Minna road, Musa Zubairu said lack of good roads are responsible for the accidents adding that when roads are smooth, people violate speed limits. He said in most cases, accidents caused by tyre bursts, or veering to avoid potholes lead to ghastly accidents. He urged drivers to observe speed limits adding that roads should also be fixed so that people could arrive at their destinations on time.
A private transporter, Sochima Orji, called on FRSC officials to ensure stiffer enforcement of speed limit devices, especially on commercial vehicles adding that drivers should always desist from over-speeding while travelling. He urged road users to ensure their vehicles are roadworthy by checking the brakes, tyres and other parts of their car before embarking on any journey.
Africa representative on the Youth Leadership Board of the Global Youth Coalition for Road Safety, Simon Patrick Obi, said the government must adopt a holistic approach to road safety.
“The new United Nations (UN) Decade of Action Plan 2021-2030, which was launched on the 28 October 2021, stipulates a holistic approach taking into consideration the five pillars of road safety, which are road safety management; safer road and mobility; safer vehicles; safer road users; and post-crash response,” he said.
He said as road safety campaigner, “We acknowledge the efforts of the government in improving road safety but we also believe that the efforts of the government are not commensurate with the daily rising challenges of road safety, however, the government need to step up its efforts by prioritising and increasing commitment for road safety.”
He said the government can also learn and adopt the examples seen in other developed countries especially Sweden, which has remained the best-performing country in terms of road safety with an annual road fatality of 16.
He said Sweden was able to achieve this remarkable reduction in crashes owing to the country’s commitment and priority through the establishment of the vision zero road safety policy, Nigeria can still achieve even much better than that reduction because the world is now much better informed in terms of what works and what doesn’t work.
He said “Similarly, the Nigerian government should adopt a smart approach to road safety by including and engaging young people at the decision-making table for road safety. As you may be aware, road traffic crashes are the single biggest killer for young people, which is why we are advocating for youthful inclusion in road safety. We can only solve a big problem like this by including and engaging young people who are smart, innovative, and full of energy as you cannot solve problems which involve us without us.”
By Taiwo Adeniyi, Maureen Onochie, Haruna Ibrahim & Hassana Yusuf