AN ASSESSMENT OF DRIVER EDUCATION ON ROAD TRAFFIC CRASHES IN GWAGWALADA AREA COUNCIL
This study is concerned with the effects of driver education on road traffic crash involvement in Gwagwalada Area Council. The main objectives are: to assess the level of education of drivers in Gwagwalada Area Council; to determine the level of drivers training in the study area; to determine the relationships between the level of education and road traffic crash on one hand and between the level of drivers training and road traffic crash on the other. Data for this study were obtained on the demographic and socio-economic characteristics of commercial drivers and their road crash involvement. The characteristics considered are sex, age, income, level of education, drivers training (education), driving experience, and road traffic crash involvement. These were obtained through questionnaire administered to commercial drivers and also through Focus Group Discussion (FGD). Data on road traffic crash were also obtained from the Federal Road Safety Corps. The data obtained were analysed using simple tables, graphs and chi-square statistical techniques. Analysis of the data led to the conclusion that: the level of education of the drivers has no effect on road traffic crashes; there exists a positive relationship between drivers training and road traffic crash. Drivers who pass through driving schools before being licenced have less road traffic crashes. Drivers training are more related to road traffic crash than the level of education. The study therefore recommends for the establishment of standard driving schools under proper supervision of regulatory agencies and for the Law on licenses that require mandatory training of new drivers in driving schools to be properly enforced. The study also recommends periodic retraining of commercial drivers.
Background to the Study
Prior to the 1960s, there were few vehicles on Nigeria roads and the rate of Road Traffic Crashes (RTC) was equally small (Malomo, 2008). Thus there was little concern about safety matters and little attention was accorded to road crash prevention strategies and remedies. However, since independence in 1960, road transportation system in Nigeria has witnessed tremendous expansion and growth.
Road construction in Nigeria received a major boost in the 1970s during the oil boom era. The national road network grew from 6,500km in 1960 to 10,000km in 1970 and 29,000km in 1980. By 2004 the total National road Network grew to 193,200km. Similarly, the number of passenger vehicles in Nigeria has grown tremendously over the years from 14.0 per 1000 people in 2002 to 30.8 in 2007. (Road Mirror, 2010).
In the 2007 estimate by the World Bank, the number of motor vehicles per 1000 people in Nigeria is 30.81. The derivative estimate shows that over 6 million Nigerians own motor vehicles at a projected estimate of over 200 million people. This also translates to a conservative estimate of vehicular density on our road to be about 30 vehicles per kilometre on the average. This has since appreciated as there is visible evidence that more vehicles are being injected into the system especially with the recent opening of the Nation’s ports for “tokunbo” cars that are more than ten years old and relatively cheap and affordable.
Unfortunately, this increase in road network and vehicles of all types brought along increase in the rate of road traffic crashes and congestions on our roads. For instance the reported cases of RTC rose from 14,130 in 1960 to 32,138 cases in 1980. Similarly the number of persons killed in RTC increased from 1,083 to 8,736 and the injured from 10,216 to 21,203 during the same period (Oyeyemi, 2003).
Globally, deaths and injuries resulting from road crashes are major concerns to duty bearers occupied with the growing public health problem associated with it. According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Burden of Disease Project for 2004, road traffic injuries are the 9th leading cause of death in 2004. RTC caused over 1.27 million deaths in 2004 – a similar number to those caused by many communicable diseases. Over 90% of the deaths occur in low – income and middle income countries, which have only 48% of the world’s registered vehicles. The fatality rates in developing countries are 25 – 30 per 10,000 vehicles (21.5 and 19.5 per 100,000 population), compared to 1 to 2 per 10,000 vehicles (10.3 per 100,000 population) in rich nations.
The WHO predicts that if nothing is done to make roads safer, by 2030, road deaths will rise to the fourth leading cause of death in developing countries and become a “far bigger problem” than such health concerns as malaria and tuberculosis. Though RTC affect all age groups, their impact is most striking among the young. Research by the WHO showed that RTC are consistently one of the top three causes of death for people aged between 5 and 44 years.
Worldwide, the number of people killed in road traffic crashes each year is estimated at almost 1. 2million, while the number injured could be as high as 50 million (WHO, 2006).
Today, the restrictive nature of the waterways in Nigeria, coupled with the collapse of the rail system and inaccessible air transport due to high cost of air transport cumulatively put a lot of pressure on the road and its structure, as most journeys or movement of goods and persons are made by road. Road transportation is the most dominant mode of transportation in Nigeria. Mahmud (2008) reiterated that, “in the absence of full functioning railway and water transport system in Nigeria, about 90% of passengers and goods are carried on our roads”
Evidently, over dependence on road transportation has brought about an astronomical increase in road traffic crashes on our roads. Balogun and Aberawje (1992), assert that Road Traffic Crashes have become a major cause of deaths in Nigeria.
The problem of road traffic crashes in the country at first seems relatively unimportant when compared to hunger, education, financial and economic problems. In fact, public ignorance of the cause of road traffic crashes was palpable as people continually attributed cause of road carnage to either the will of God or evil spirit while ignoring the scientific angle to the menace thus creating a high level of apathy among the people. However today, one of the major problems facing the country is how to curb the high rates of road traffic crashes.
Also, as a result of the fact that many people drive today as part of their job, traffic crashes are now a leading cause of occupational injury with an estimated 92,000 work – related road traffic deaths each year worldwide (Takala, 1999). In response, some companies invest, at significant cost in driver education programmes for their employees.
Driver education programmes have also been offered to drivers who have committed traffic offences. In some cases, drivers attending such programmes in the United Kingdom (UK), are offered lower insurance premiums or can have citations removed from their driving records on the assumption that they would be ‘safer’ drivers after the programme. In the UK, promoting post-licence driver education, enhancing the status of advanced driving qualifications and encouraging extra training for professional drivers are key components of the government road safety strategy (Ker et al, 2004).
Driver education has for long been used in many countries as a strategy to reduce traffic crashes such that successful completion of a driver education course is required before new drivers receive their driver’s licence or learners’ permit.
The debate about the value of driver education programmes can best be resolved by a consideration of the empirical evidence for their effectiveness. While some work (Peck, 2010; Roberts and Kwan, 2008; Ker et al, 2004) have been done on the role of driver education in reducing traffic crashes in Europe and some other countries, very little however, has been done on this area in Nigeria.
Statement of Problem
The most serious problem facing road transportation today all over the world is the incident of road traffic crashes (RTC). At the moment, it constitutes the most serious problem to traffic and personal safety on the highways. In Nigeria, the incident has become a very disturbing phenomenon and the country is presently ranked among the world’s highest (Akpoghomeh, 2000).
Nigeria Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, in a conference to mark the first anniversary of the United Nation (UN) Decade of Action in Abuja, said that Nigeria has the second highest accident fatalities among the 193 countries in the world, 162 deaths per 100,000. This high rate of deaths according to the minister is adversely affecting the health system in the country and hampering its attainment of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5 (Nation Newspaper of Sunday 13 May 2012).
Also speaking at the same occasion, the National Focal person for UN Decade of Action in Nigeria, Dr. Sydney Ibeamisi said over 80 percent of injuries in Nigeria are traffic accidents related, stressing that road traffic accidents are the third leading cause of deaths in the country.
Researches conducted by various authors (Usoro, 2006; Hendricks et al, 1999; Oyeyemi, 2003; Aworemi et al, 2010; Aaron and Strasser, 1990; Balogun and Abereoje, 1992; Luby and Associates, 1997) from different disciplines on road traffic crashes have shown that there are three major causes of RTC namely: human factor, mechanical factor and environmental factor
The human factor is identified to constitute about 90% of RTC with the drivers’ action or inaction making up 80% of this percentage, (FRSC, 2008). Thus any meaningful effort aimed at reducing RTC would necessarily need to focus more on the human factor particularly the driver.
Efforts to curb high traffic crashes and associated deaths worldwide have been anchored on the 3Es of Road Traffic Safety i.e. Engineering, Enforcement and Education.
The Nigeria government has done a lot in the area of road traffic safety aimed at reducing traffic crashes to the barest minimum. Government budgets huge sums of money annually for road construction and maintenance (Engineering) as well as to fund road supervisory and enforcement agencies (Enforcement) yet the rate of road traffic crashes and deaths has remained very high. This shows that there is still a big gap.
This is probably because these efforts of government seem to focus more on Engineering and Enforcement giving little or no attention to the effects of Education of drivers. Yet it is true that the quality of education provided is most likely to determine the quality of drivers behind the wheels. Moreover the driver is said to be the most important factor in the occurrence of a crash as most of the factors involved in RTC are created or controlled by man, (Usoro, 2006).
This study therefore is aimed at investigating this gap observed in road traffic safety in Gwagwalada. Consequently, the following research questions have been raised to address the study:
- What is the literacy and educational levels of drivers in Gwagwalada?
- What is the level of drivers training in the study area?
- What is the impact of the level of education of drivers on road traffic crash?
- What is the relationship between the level of drivers training and road traffic crash?
- What is the trend in Road Traffic Crashes in Gwagwalada Area Council?
The aim of this study is to examine the role of driver education in Road Traffic Crashes in Gwagwalada Area Council, with the purpose of determining the effectiveness of driver education as a road safety strategy in reducing traffic crashes. This shall be achieved through the following objectives:
- To assess the level of education of drivers in Gwagwalada Area Council.
- To determine the level of driver’s training in the study area.
- To determine the relationship between the level of education of drivers and road traffic crash.
- To determine the relationship between the level of drivers training and RTC.
- To determine the trend in Road Traffic Crashes in the study area.
- The level of educational qualification has no effect on Road Traffic Crashes in Gwagwalada Area Council of FCT.
- Drivers Training has no effect on Road Traffic Crashes in the study area.
Scope of the Study
The study would focus on driver education and motor crash involvement in Gwagwalada Area Council. The survey will cover only commercial drivers from the major motor parks within the Area Council that is Zuba, Giri and Gwagwalada motor parks. This is because statistics have shown that commercial drivers (professional drivers), those who earn their living from driving are responsible for a greater percentage of crashes and death on our roads. In this case each driver education level and training would be examined and considered vis-à-vis crash involvement. The study would also make use of RTC records for a five-year period (2010-2014) obtained from the FRSC.
Justification of the Study
It is a widely held belief that improving road safety culture generally lies in behavioural change by the various publics that use the road. Education is crucial to achieving desired behavioral change. The need for proper education and training is highly recognized in the area of transport safety. According to Balogun (2006), “only 20% of Nigerian drivers are literate in spite of the importance of education in driving”.
The alarming increase in mortality rate owing to road traffic crashes over the past three decades is a matter of great concern and need to be scholarly unraveled for the formulation of pragmatic intervention strategies that will mitigate the scenario.
Furthermore the various strategies and efforts by government and other organizations to reverse the very alarming high death rates from motor crashes seem not to have yielded much result. This therefore necessitates “the need for this study which will provide information on the relationship between crash involvement and driver education, an area where very little is known.
The result that will be obtained will; be very useful to the government and other stakeholders in road transportation in formulating meaningful road traffic safety policies that will curb the high rates of RTC and deaths in Nigeria.
Gwagwalada is one of the six Area Councils of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), located about 40 kilometers away from the Federal Capital City (FCC) of Abuja. Gwagwalada is located between latitude 8′ and N of the equator and longitude and and occupies an area of 1,043 km2.
Gwagwalada is located at the very centre of a very fertile agricultural area and a productive forest zone with adequate clay deposit to its northwest and southwest, and with rich deposits of sharps sand in the Gurara and Usuma valley. It is located along the trunk A2 road from Lokoja to Kaduna. Lying west of the town is the Gurara River while Abuja hills lies to the north (FCDA, 1979).
Figure 1: Map of Gwagwalada Area Council showing the Study Area
The population of Gwagwalada has been fast increasing as a result of combination of factors namely: natural increase (high fertility and immigration), the relative low cost of housing in the area especially in areas of unplanned settlement type, the presence of Federal Government Institutions such as University of Abuja, University Teaching Hospital, Civil Defence, Immigration and Prisons Pension Board (CIPB), FCT School of Nursing, FCT College of Education, and other private schools, with Commercial Banks. The 2006 National Population Census (NPC) figure for the Gwagwalada Area Council were given as one hundred and fifty seven thousand seven hundred and seventy (157,770) (NPC, 2006).
Administrative and Economic Activities
A sizeable percentage of the people are engaged in public and private institutions in the area. Other activities of the people are farming, commercial bus driving, tailoring, barbing, water vending and other works to mention a few. The traditional head of Gwagwalada is the Aguma with other second class chiefs. There is a central market situated along the FRCN road, the market holds every four days of the week. There are also a lot of historical relics and artifacts in Gwagwalada and some tourist attractions such as Giri Pottery Center, Calabash Center at Zuba, to mention but a few.
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