Ember months are the last four months in a calendar year. The period is usually characterized by high social, economic and political activities across the country. During this period, there are heavy vehicular movements on the roads. This is why most of the road crashes happen at this time of the year. For instance, the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC in 2012 said an average of 11 people was killed daily in road accidents across Nigeria.
This statement is corroborated by a report by the World Health Organization, WHO that Nigeria accounts for the highest fatalities with 33.7 percent per 100,000 population every year on road traffic deaths in selected African countries. The report titled “Road Safety in the WHO African Region”, said more than one in four traffic accident deaths in Africa occur on Nigerian roads. The report also claims that road accident is the third leading cause of death in Nigeria.
This places Nigeria as having the second worst traffic fatalities in the world followed closely by South Africa with 31.9 percent per 100,000 population, then DR Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. In the same report, Africa was listed as the “least motorized out of the six continents in the World, but suffers the highest rates of road fatalities” of the 37 countries that the survey covered, with death rates well above the average of 18 deaths for 100,000 population. The fatality figures for United States and Britain are 15 and seven percent, respectively.
The above statistics from WHO and the FRSC have indeed shown that most of the road crashes occur in ember months. For instance, in 2009, FRSC said total fatal accidents across the country were 2,460; serious cases were 6,024, minor cases 2,370. Total cases stood at 10,854 with 5,693 killed, 27,270 injured out of a total of 32,963 casualties. In the first quarter of 2009, there were 2,855 cases of road accidents with 7,372 injured, 1,414 killed out of a total casualty of 8,786, while the second quarter shows 2,660 cases with 6,720 persons injured, 1,699 killed out of 8,419 total casualties. The third quarter shows 2,707 cases with 6,426 persons injured, 1272 persons killed and 7698 as total casualty; while in the fourth quarter, 2,632 cases were recorded, 6,752 injured, 1,308 killed out of a total 8,060 casualties. In the fourth quarter, 2,632 cases of road accidents were recorded 6,752 injured, 1,308 killed out of 8,060 casualties.
Of course, some factors have been attributed to the frequent fatal accidents on our roads such as increase in the poverty level of the people, poor driving culture, danger of night trips, over loading, dangerous driving, poor vehicle maintenance, among others.
No doubt, this frightening statistics call for immediate action by the Federal and state Governments, safety agencies, motorists and other stakeholders to find lasting solution to the issue of frequent road crashes.
A major cause of road accidents in Nigeria is bad roads. As at today, it is difficult to ply the length of any our roads without experiencing dangerous portions and death traps. This is not good for a richly endowed country despite 55 years of nationhood.
We call on the Federal Government as well as state and local governments to immediately fix the roads before the Xmas celebration in view of the heavy traffic usually witnessed during the period. It is a serious indictment that road accident is the third leading cause of death in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the FRSC should double its efforts in promoting healthy attitude on the road. It should come up with fresh strategies and ideas aimed at regulating the operation of different categories of vehicles that ply the road. Besides, the ember months’ accident -free campaigns should go beyond the various motor parks to churches, mosques and markets to enlighten members of the public on the need to always apply caution while driving. All should join hands to make the ember months accident-free.