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ROAD SAFETY EDUCATION KNOWLEDGE AND COMPLIANCE TO ROAD TRAFFIC SIGNS AND CODE AMONG KEKE COMMERCIAL DRIVERS IN UYO, AKWA IBOM STATE, NIGERIA
In any human society, the movement of people and goods from one place to another has great implication for the physiological and psychological wellbeing of individuals. It also has implication on the social and economic development of members of the society and the nation at large unfortunately, traffic injuries are hazards that are related to such movement. These hazards can be prevented or controlled when the factors that have been identified to be of great importance in the incidence or accident especially the human factor are adequately addressed and taken care of.
Hussin, Yahia and Ismail (2014) observed that road safety and road traffic injuries have become a major public health concern and risk factor in both developed and developing nations, particularly due to their pervasive social, economic and health implication, World Health Organisation (WHO) (2013), reported that road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death among young people aged 25 – 59 years, half of those dying on the world’s road are vulnerable road users which includes pedestrian, cyclist, motorcyclist and tricyclist (Keke). WHO (2013) noted that without action road crashes are predicted to result in the death of around 1.9 million people annually by 2020. This report noted that the problem was very severe in developing countries and that preventive measures such as road safety education could reduce the number of deaths.
Makinde and Opeyemi (2012) highlightted that the number and quality of vehicles on the road have increased due to technological and economical development in recent years. As a result of this increase, traffic congestion on the road has become one of most important part of our daily lives as people spend more time in go-slow or traffic jam thereby forcing drivers and other road users to face higher risk of traffic accidents.In Nigeria, traffic rules and regulations exist to discourage and punish indiscipline and unsafe acts on the road as noted by Emenike and Akpan (2017). The authors pointed out that there are traffic laws creating traffic offences as well as penalties at different levels of governance to discourage traffic violation (Federal Road Safety Commission, 2007). In Nigeria, commercial drivers violates mostly the use of seatbelts, they exceed speed limit, reckless driving, the use of vehicles with unauthorized plate number, the use of fire extinguisher, overtaking atdangerous points, overloading of vehicles, making phone calls while on the wheel and failure to comply with traffic signs and codes (FRSC 2012:2016).
Mupimpilla (2008) noted that traffic accidents have social and economic implications for developing countries and for the families of the casualties, such as loss of life, property damage, permanent disability, monetary cost and time. Hussin et al. (2014) also noted that traffic injuries are the leading cause of death, disability and economic burden in developing nations.
Road Safety (2013) suggested that education, enforcement engineering, evaluation and encouragement are measures which can be applied to reduce risk on the roads of various developed and developing nations. These action can yield success in changing drivers attitude and behaviour on the road, which can help to reduce the number and severity of road traffic injuries.
Road Safety is a broad concept of controls and devices including traffic regulations and cautionary measures designed to stop or reduce traffic related injuries (Ahmad, Abu and Yousuf, 2016). Fatalities due to traffic accidents are very high in developing countries including Nigeria (Alli, 2010). Many studies have concluded that public health education, awareness campaign and strict law enforcement strategies could play an important role in the reduction of traffic injuries (Kulkarni, 2013; Osuaguli, 2013; and Al-Atawi, 2014).
The business is growing and booming everywhere in Nigeria and in AkwaIbom State. Even though the business assists greatly in enhancing people’s standard of living, it equally causes untimely death as well as brings grievous harm to helpless Nigerians and AkwaIbom people. Awesu (2007) reported that a visit any health facility around Uyorevealedugly sight of victims of traffic accident. Commercial tricycle drivers – Keke drivers don’t obey safety rules as they run mainly after daily profit. Significantly, determined by the number of trips made, average time spent on a trip, the number of traffic challenges they encounter daily, ownership of the vehicle and number of passengers an operator carries at a time which significantly increase risk behaviour. Some of these tricycle drivers are untrained, unskilled,unlicenced and sometimes they intimidate other road users thus constituting risk to other road users and violating road safety rules and regulations (Ogundele and Awesu, 2008).
Udo and Haastrup (2006) highlighted that, all road users are potential victims of road accidents resulting into injuries but common in those who are not skilled, those who are abusers of substances and those who are physically unfit.Awesu (2007)and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development(2008), also submitted that some commercial operators of Tricycle even strongly believe in the efficacy of charms to avert accident without having knowledge, attitude and practice that promote safety in road use. Road traffic injuries or accidents respect no one except those who work to avert it. Vulnerability to accident could be reduced if some form of personality changes are achieved with the aid of educative programme. Kirmizioghu and Tuydes-Yamen(2012) noted that worldwide, traffic signs and codes are the oldest and most commonly used traffic control device (TCD|). These signs and codes convey messages in words or symbols and are erected to regulate, warn, or guide the road users including motorist and pedestrian. Traffic signs and codes are commonly used traffic safety tools mainly developed to provide crucial information in a short time to support safe drive, but the success depends on their understanding by the drivers.
Traffic signs are most effective when they command attention and convey clear meaning to road users. Knowledge f some traffic signs and code are not as well spread as one might imagine among keke commercial drivers and these could cause avoidable accident with it attendant risk on life, property, family and the nation. (Kirmizioghu and Tuydes-Yamen, 2012).
Several strategies variously group as the three E-education, engineering and enforcement are available for motor accident prevention and of the three E-education of people is said to be the most significant as it is generally acknowledged that human factor is a major factor in common incidences and consequences of accidents (Adeogun, 2004;Udo and Haastrup, 2006; and Awesu, 2007). The authors opined that accidents do not just happened, they are caused by interaction between the agent, environment and the host.Awesu(2007) recognized that road safety education is a planned programme of education that provides skills, positive attitudes and measures which enable an individual to live safely or avoid accidents on the road. It is a means to be free from danger or risk. It involves modification of human behaviour to reduce the possibility of hazards and accidents on the road. Road policemen cannot be deployed to all the streets or intersection to ensure compliance of people are knowledgeable, willfully applying such knowledge or skills to form attitude as well as practice them, the scourge of tricycle accident would be abated. Road safety education may help to stop operators of tricycle from riskybehaviour and unjust actions in commercial tricycle drivers.
According to Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) (1998), the objective of road safety education is to achieve an optimal use of the transportation system with optimal safety for all road users. The ultimate goal of each road safety education is to reduce the number of crashes and casualties. The WHO Global Status Report (2015) and Road Safety, confirmed that an urgent action is needed to achieve the target for road safety as reflected in the newly adopted 2030 Agenda for sustainable development (goal 3 and 11) and halving the global death and injuries from road traffic crashes by 2020.Road safety education and knowledge of road traffic signs and codes among commercial tricycle drivers in AkwaIbom State, Nigeria, for the prevention of road traffic incidences and crashes thus becomes very significant. This is to help improve longevity and the quality of lives of the road users generally, and the tricycle drivers in particular in AkwaIbom State, Nigeria.
Some tricycle operators have no exposure to safe use of road, traffic signs, and codes, rules and regulations, some complain of cost of training whenever road safety education workshop is proposed and purposely absent themselves from such training programmes. Udo and Haastup (2006), United Nations Global Road Safety Collaboration (2007) confirmed that vulnerability to accidents could be stemmed through road safety education.
The occurrence of accidental injuries and the consequent morbidity and deformities necessities serious attention not only in service and policy making but also in the educational areas such as road safety education, prevention of accident begin with self and from the understanding that an individual has his life to protect and preserves. Ogundele and Awesu (2008) explained that, road safety consciousness precedes every preventive measures and safety consciousness arise from an appreciation of the fact that accidents are factors of untimely death which terminate good vision and laudable programmes. It also limits efficiency of an individual by inflicting permanent disability. It places limitation on use of body part affected thereby reducing efficiency and productivity. Accident can also leave a person effective and dependent on good will of people.