Safe Road User: The Role of Pedestrian And Passenger

How to avoid accident

The Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Nigeria, was established on the 18th of February, 1988 in order to enforce laws guarding road usage and also to save lives that are affected by road crashes, whether knowingly or unknowingly. The FRSC is also known to regulate the documents of the vehicles using the Nigerian roads, and much effort has been put to see the end of road crashes in Nigeria. 

The FRSC is saddled with the responsibility of ensuring the road worthiness of all vehicles on the Nigerian roads. This might have reduced the road crashes to an extent, however, road crashes has ceased to end in Nigeria. Motorists most times are believed to cause most of these road crashes and little or no attention has been paid to the contribution by other road users such as the pedestrians and passengers. Dangerous driving by motorists are popular causes of road crashes, however, inattentiveness of pedestrians and nonchalant attitude of passengers towards reckless driving by drivers are also responsible for road crashes
This doesn’t jeopardize the lives of motorists, pedestrians and passengers alone, but also the lives of other road users like animals and cyclists. While there has been consistent sensitization of motorists on how to use the road safely, in order not to harm themselves and other road users, it has become necessary to also sensitize road users like the pedestrians and passengers on their roles towards safe use of the Nigerian roads.

As described by Wikitionary, Pedestrians are those known to walk on the roads while passengers are those who ride or travel in a vehicle but not operate it or be a part of the crew. Passengers can also include pillions, that is, passengers on a motorcycle. Most times, passengers on bikes are known to encourage the riders to ride recklessly so as to get early to their destinations or to beat the traffic. These most times has caused loss of body parts, injuries and even death to the victims.

Also, passengers in a vehicle tend to turn a blind eye to the reckless driving and drink-driving exhibited by drivers without warning them of the dangers involved. This negligence has cost most of those involved their lives and there is a need to create an awareness on the dangers of silence and negligence and the roles of passengers and pedestrians on road safety.

According to the Accident Research Centre in the publication authored by Reagan and Mitsoupoulos and titled ‘Understanding Passenger influences on Driver Behaviour: Implications for Road Safety and Recommendations for Countermeasure Development’, passengers are a substantial part of road toll and their influence on drivers’ behavior has most times been overlooked in road safety campaigns. They further explained that road crashes has a higher risk when a young driver carries his peers as passengers while the risk is lower when he carries a child, adult or parents. 
Also, friends or peers as passengers is believed to have a negative influence on the behavior of a young driver, most especially a young male driver. Paying no attention to the driving task due to social interaction among friends might also be a major cause of road crashes. However, passengers that include the children of a young driver, wife, or parents were believed to heighten the sense of responsibility of such driver and therefore not negotiate the safety of occupants. Further, they thought that the safety of elderly drivers might be due to the passengers warning the driver of imminent hazards in consideration of the elderly drivers’ generally compromised and cognitive abilities.

Through their telephone surveys, they found out the further roles of passengers in the safety of road usage and their involvement in the vehicle. They discovered that the passengers determine whether their driver engages in risky driving behaviors, that is driving too close to the car in front or trying to overtake, whether by their physical presence or telling the driver, whether the driver engages in anti-social behavior like spinning the wheels or drink-driving, and whether the driver drives responsibly. Also, passengers talk to their drivers either socially or to keep the driver awake when on a journey, or to alleviate the driver’s workload by answering his mobile phone. Therefore, passengers are an integral part of safe road usage.  

Also, publications by Arrive Alive titled ‘Road Safety and Pedestrian distractions while walking in traffic’ claimed that pedestrians are not properly informed on how they are duly involved on road usage. Furthermore, pedestrian inattentiveness is believed to have a high risk of road crash. Examples include a pedestrian who watched his right, left and forgot to watch his right again before crossing, usage of mobile phones to chat while walking, text message, make calls or even use the ear piece to listen to music. 
Others are; looking in another direction, having conversations with friends on the road, eating on the road, carried away by thoughts or reading a book or newspaper. These actions induce road crashes and create a higher risk of having more lives lost to ignorance. Furthermore, claims that a pedestrian who decides to walk on a road with a lot of traffic do so at his own detriment.

Therefore, it is worthy to note that pedestrians and passengers are active users of the roads, and apart from motorists, can also be major causes of road crashes. So, they have a role to play in the safe use of roads.

In order to incorporate the pedestrians and passengers on their roles in a safe usage of the roads, the FRSC and road safety clubs should sensitize both passengers and pedestrians, and the consequences of inattentiveness on the roads. The FRSC already made some submissions and this should be duly communicated to the pedestrians. The submissions for pedestrians include; alert to reckless driver behaviors and their disregard for pedestrian right of way; avoid walking where they cannot be seen by drivers; to always use the pedestrian bridge to cross over to the other side of the road; and to make use of sidewalks, if none, should walk on the side of the road facing oncoming vehicles.

 They further advised pedestrians to make use of crosswalks, be attentive by obeying the signals, always pay attention to where headed, look left, right and left again, and to avoid texting while crossing the road. As recommended by Arrive Alive, pedestrians should be on the alert and watch for traffic, limit the use of cell phones on the roads and if they must make calls, should stay at a point till the call ends as life is more important than conversation or should inform the caller to call back. 

Also, they should be fully aware of their surroundings, and should not allow music withdraw their attention from the hooting or sirens, or sound of oncoming vehicles. They should also not assume that they have the right of way and cars must stop for them. They should also pay attention to warnings from gadget and mobile providers on the dangers of using their products while crossing the road or walking on the road.

Other instructions by the Road Safety Unit(RSU) for the pedestrians to adhere include; cross at spots where there are stop signs, traffic lights; stay on sidewalk when walking and to walk on the right side against traffic so they can see oncoming motorists; when crossing at locations without signals, should cross the street at one lane at a time, and only cross to the next lane when it safe to do so; look right, left and then right again before crossing; wear bright coloured clothing at night which can reflect at motorists; and when walking in large groups should walk in single file, that is, one behind the other.
For passengers, the Accident Research Centre recommended that they should be aware of helping the driver to do other things while driving. These include navigating, adjusting the radio, keeping the driver company, warning the driver of approaching hazards, and alerting the driver to the speed at which they are travelling. Also, intervention or correction by passengers must be constructive and should occur before an occurrence rather than after. 

RSU also recommended for pillions(passengers on a motorcycle); to align their body with that of the rider especially when the motorcycle is leaning around curves; grip the grab rail; pick a shoulder to look over and don’t change shoulder or wriggle about when cornering or braking; stay still as the motorcycle is coming to a stop; aid the rider’s ability to feel the balance of the machine; keep the foot on the foot pegs at all times; should request and put on appropriate protective gear; should agree on a method of communication with the rider; be informed on how to get on and off the bike; and should be aware of the hot parts of the motorcycle, including pipes and brake discs, and any other potential hazards or fragile equipment.

This indicates that a proper sensitization of the road users and enforcement is eminent. Acts that violate proper use of roads, or risks which can cause road crashes should carry charges, whether legal or financial. A proper enforcement by the FRSC and road safety clubs and a total adherence by pedestrians and passengers will definitely be a win-win situation for both parties as road crashes will significantly reduce.
A must read: WAEC for governors and presidents, Bachelor's degree for the citizens

Remember to share this to sensitize the public.

Post a Comment