Driving is a means to achieve objectives associated with everyday life in our society. At the same time, driving requires a serious responsibility that determine the driver’s safety and that of the other road users within the vicinity. We drive to work, visit friends and relations, and travel to different places-short and long distances-for personal or public activities. A person that cannot plan, organise and manage his precious time effectively and efficiently, he then result to do all things in a hurry. As a result of this, many people drive faster without minding the speed limit and caution signs posted on the road. This reckless driving behaviour becomes an habit which is very dangerous for our live and the lives of other innocent roads users.This bad driving habit has its toll on the state economy because of the huge waste on public health.
Speed in its simplest meaning is an act or state of moving swiftly; swiftness; velocity: rapidly; rate of motion. Speed is defines as exceeding the posted limit or driving too fast under stipulated or normal condition. Speeding is deemed to have occured when an individual is travelling above the accepted legal speed limit on any city or urban road. Speed limit varies between roads. It is an obligation by the law of any sovereign country, that its traffic authority (lead agency) whose their principal objective is to save lives and reduce related road traffic accidents and trauma have to signify any change in speed between roads. Speed limits are introduced to promote greater road safety and prevent environmental pollution such as noise and smoke.
In a safety research conducted by the Centre for Automotive Safety Rresearch at Adelaide University in South Australia few years ago, it was found that for every 5 kilometres per hour increases in vehicle speed over the limit in a 60 kilometres per hour zone have the risk of crashing doubles. The research explains further that, a driver travelling at 70 kilometres per hour faces four times the risk of a driver travelling at the speed limit. More researches on excessive speed states that, when the stopping distances increases and other manoeuvres to avoid crashes become more difficult and complicated. The findings goes further to states that the gravity or severity of an impact or crashes increases with higher speed and the possibilty for other road users to communicate and perceive the intentions of the road-users in time to react appropriately decreases as does the ability to detect hazards.
Excessive speed is an important factor in one third of all fatal crashes or accidents on our roads. Speeding has been researched to be a deliberate and calculated behaviour where the driver knows the risk but ignores the danger that might be involved. It is just at a point, where speed-driver displays a wanton disregard for the rules of the roads which often causing accidents and other damages. Some drivers have been used to the habit of overspeeding due to effect of taking alcohol, drugs and other prohibited substances. Overspeeding has contributed to major fatal road accidents in developing countries as most of the roads are bad and unmarked or signed. The traffic laws on overspeeding should be enforced without any bias or exceptions. Traffic laws have been put in place for a reason to save lives and not for decoration in the archive.
Speeding is one of the common offences under road traffic law that have to be taken with seriousness as many people have lost their lives each year due to careless speeding. While many people have been handicapped or injured for the rest of their lives due to overspeeding. Speed laws have become a Penal Code in some countries in which a dangerous or reckless driver can be charged for a huge fine, loss all points from his driving licence or liable to many years in imprisonment if found guilty. The developing countries traffic authority has a vital role to play in order to accomplish their mission of saving lives on roads. According to Elvik ( 2008), road safety management implies systematic work to ensure continous improvement in road safety. Most of developing countries in Africa are now adopting the United Nations Decade of Action on Road Safety (2011-2020), with the goal to reduce the number of fatalities caused by RTC by 50 percent by the year 2020. This is a welcome development, but we have to be sincere with ourselves to make it a worthwhile investiment and not wasting fund and finding jobs for political collaborators and their cronies. If something is worth doing, it is worthdoing right.
Meanwhile, in order to achieve the goal behind this action plan, the road traffic lead agencies in developing countries have to rely on the expertise and experiences of a rays of individuals, including relevant government departments, public health, legal affair officers, independent researchers in the field, non-governmenntal organisations and the road users organisations. This is likelihood team that can achieve the reduction goal with a serious and practicable programme that addresses possible objectives which are acceptable to as many parts of the society. African population is growing rapidly and if the important issues of construction, rehabilitation and maintenances of roads, obligatory examination to obtain driving licence, national identity cards, payments of fines to designated banks, national electronic number plates, erecting and placing of speed limits sign posts, camaras or radar equipment (for photograpic evidence of the vehicle and its speed) and increased numbers of traffic officers controlling on highways and expressways and not extorting motorists, the investment on a decade of action plan would be just a mere dream and waste.
Adewale T Akande, an Author and Road Safety Traffic Consultant
based in Barcelona, Spain-is presently in Nigeria on World Bank project assignment on implementation of Governance Accountability Action Plan in the Road Sector.