The Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) claims that Nigeria recorded more than 345,908 deaths from road traffic crashes between independence in 1960 and 2015.
According to the commission, driver and human factors were responsible for 82 per cent of the crashes, while technical or car factor is responsible for 13 per cent and bad road accounts for three per cent.
Dr Boboye Oyeyemi, the Corps Marshal of the commission, said that speed also contributed to the severity of the impact of the crashes.
He added that with speed of 80 kilometre per hour, the likelihood of death was 20 times what it would have been with speed level of 30 kilometre per hour.
He also noted that 91 per cent of the world’s fatalities on the roads occurred in low and middle-income countries such as Nigeria.
He said between January 2015 and June 2016, 9,734 speed related crashes occurred in Nigeria, killing 5,440 people.
Oyeyemi said this record made the enforcement of the use of Speed Limiting Device imperative “to detect how fast a driver is moving and automatically check it.’’
He said that a vehicle’s speed is locked at the approved speed level and when the driver accelerated beyond it, the device would check it.
“Speed limit violation accounts for the highest number of road crashes in Nigeria; the irony is that speed related road deaths are avoidable if we resolve to prevent them.
“That is why the corps has adopted the speed limiting device approach and it is pertinent for us to embrace this speed limiting strategy to curb this monster on our roads,’’ he said.
But some cynics allege that the device is another avenue for the government to exploit the common man while some Nigerians have even taken the FRSC to court to stall the implementation.
“You may recall that an earlier date for commencement of compulsory use of Speed Limiting Device was June, 2015 but the implementation and enforcement of the device witnessed four postponements from its initial launching date before its final approval by the presidency.
“The first hiccup it experienced was the intervention by the National Assembly to suspend the enforcement to enable the Committee on FRSC to conduct a public hearing to determine the desirability of the use of the device.
“After the submission of the committee’s report and its debate at the plenary of the House, the recommendation for the lifting of the suspension order was adopted and the House gave go ahead for the enforcement of the device.
“The Federal High Court also cleared the corps for having the powers as legally mandated to introduce the device more so the final approval was given by President Muhammadu Buhari for the enforcement and implementation of the device from Oct. 1, 2016.
“There is no going back on the Speed Limiting Device; that is the stand of the corps. We need to carry out our own responsibility to save lives,’’ Oyeyemi said.
He said that the corps would continue with advocacy, education and enlightenment, known as the advisory enforcement.
“This time around, it will be speed limiter installation checks, the exercise shall therefore be known as Speed Limiting Device Verification Checks and shall continue to January 2017.
“Carrying through this phase, the individual commercial operators will be separated from those operating fleet.
“The data will enable the corps further steps in the right direction towards the final and strategic persuasive enforcement,’’ he said.
Appraising the initiative, Mr Salimonu Oladiti, Chairman of Petroleum Tanker Drivers’ Association, said the initiative was a good development.
He urged Nigerians to show compassion for the carnage of human lives on our roads and allow the scheme to work to save lives.
“We want to save the lives of our members on the roads because they are they are breadwinners of their various homes and we have lost one too many.
“Some of them who have fitted the devices have been relaying their positive experiences in recent times.
“I can tell you that it’s the best thing that can happen to tanker drivers because it will help to reduce cases of brake failure among others,’’ he said.
In the same vein, Alhaji Najeem Yasin, the National President of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, said the device would prolong the lifespan of vehicles.
“We know very well the danger of speeding. It is very important to save the lives of our drivers and passengers.
“I hope it will not end with commercial operators at motor parks but be extended to private vehicles as well,’’ he said.
Similarly, Mr Kassim Bataiya, the President of the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners, said there was a stakeholders meeting with FRSC, where all the transport unions aligned with the corps on the implementation of the policy.
All in all, Oyeyemi called on Nigerians to adhere to the use of the Speed Limiting Device because it will reduce crashes on Nigerian roads, insisting that it has yielded significant positive results in more than 33 countries where it has been adopted.
Atabo writes for News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)