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KNOWLEDGE AND ADHERENCE OF COMMERCIAL BUS DRIVERS ON ROAD SAFETY MEASURES
Road crashes started in Lagos, Nigeria in 1906. Ever since, it has been a major killer in Nigeria. The attempt to reduce the number and severity of road crashes necessitated the formulation of road traffic regulations to guide operation, conduct and other issues relating to the road and the road users. There are various categories of road users namely vehicle owners including motorcyclists, and pedestrians. The use of motorcycles for passenger transport gained accelerated momentum in Nigeria after the economic recession of the early 1980s. The economic down turn of the 1980s in Nigeria and the subsequent introduction of Structural Adjustment Programme in 1986 led to cut in employment in both the public sector and the organized private sector thereby leading to an upsurge in the activities and relevance of the informal sector of which motorcycle passenger transport is a part. The lack of adequate and sustainable public transport cum poor urban planning in most Nigerian cities created a transport gap for the motorcycles to fill in passenger transportation. A substantial number of road crashes in Nigeria involve motorcyclists. Stakeholders have advocated for outright ban on their operations; some called for restrictions; while others blamed the menace on inefficient road traffic law enforcement. While the above positions cannot be disputed, it is however imperative to investigate the level of compliance of these commercial motorcyclists with road traffic regulation. The overall goal of the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011 – 2020 is to stabilize and then reduce the forecast level of road traffic fatalities around the World by 2020. The activities to achieve the above goal will take place at local, national, regional and global levels (WHO, 2011). At the national level such as in Nigeria, stabilizing and reducing crash injuries from motorcycles will require inquiry into compliance with road traffic regulations in order to provide direction for enforcement, which is a component of the safe system approach i.e. pillar 4 – safer road users.
It has been estimated that about 1.3 million people die annually as a result of road crashes-over 3000 deaths per day. Ninety per cent of road deaths occur in low- and middle income countries, which harbours less than half of the world’s registered vehicle fleet. Road crash injuries are among the three leading causes of deaths for people between 5 and 44 years of age. The economic burden of road crashes has been put at between 1 and 3 per cent of the Gross National Product (GNP) (WHO, 2011:4). The failure of drivers to comply with basic road safety legislations is the main cause of serious crashes (EC, 2003:17). Compliance in road safety is the act of obedience to rules guiding the usage of the roads by road users. The sequential objectives of these rules are; to avoid conflicts among road users; prevent events that are unpleasant to the road users; and mitigate the effects of the unpleasant events. Non-compliance carries penalty. Penalties as defined by the road traffic regulation agencies differ from country to country. Penalties in road traffic law enforcement, in order of severity, range from; no action, written or verbal warning, fines to prosecution or arrest (Southgate and Mirrlees-Black, 1991; Zaal, 1994). The application of the penalty options have been documented in the literature to effect road user behaviour in different ways (Armour, 1984; Dingle, 1985; Assum, 1986; Ross, 1988; Widen, et al. 1989; Robinson and Smiley, 1989; Bjornskau and Elvik,1990; Evans, 1991; Bailey, 1991; Riley 1991; Williams, et al. 1992; etc). The main objective of the penalty is to serve as deterrence i.e. prevents non-compliant behaviour. The deterrence mechanism could either be specific or general. Specific deterrence relates to compliance based on the assumption that road users will be discouraged from committing or exhibiting non-compliant behaviour; while general deterrence relies on the assumption that road users who become aware of the risk of apprehension and punishment adopt compliant behaviour to avoid the consequences of enforcement (Zaal, 1994).
A high compliance rate will lead to improved safety on the roads, ceteris paribus, which will in turn reduce the destruction of human and material resources required for economic growth and development. The schematic link between compliance rate, road safety and economic growth and development is shown in Figure 1.
A typical illustration is the case of crash helmet. Wearing it correctly can reduce the risk of fatal or serious head injuring by 50 per cent (EC, 2003:24); thereby freeing medical resources, productive man-hour, etc., which can be deplored for other economic and social advancement of the society. It has been found that medical charges for un-helmeted motorcycle in-patients suffering brain injuries were 2.25 times higher than for those without brain injuries (NHSTA, 1996). Similarly estimates show that motorcycle helmet use saved US$ 19.5billion in economic costs from 1984 through 2002. An additional US$14.billion would have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmet during the same period (NHTSA, 2004).
The rules and their enforcement form a vital component of the tripod of road transport regulations namely economic, service and safety regulations. Economic regulation seeks to promote fairness among competitors in the road industry; service regulation involves ensuring that regulated carriers provide services that are consistent with their operating rights; while safety regulation is designed to protect the general public, users and operators from crashes as well as unhealthy environment (Wood and Johnson 1993:91). There are various studies on compliance rates with road traffic regulations across the globe among various types of road users- motorists and pedestrians. Studies on seat belt usage and effectiveness are common among motorists (Evans and Frick, 1986; Morgan, 1999; Elvik and Vaa, 2004; Norlen, et al. 2010) while safety helmet usage is common among motorcyclists. The brief review in this section will be limited to compliance with road safety regulations as they pertain to motorcyclists. Motorcycling is the mode of transport involving by far the greatest risk (EC, 2003:32).
There may have been previous researches in this subject. This work gives further explanations and analysis in knowledge and adherence of commercial bus drivers on road safety measures
H0: There is no relationship between knowledge and adherence of commercial bus drivers and road safety
H1: There is a relationship between knowledge and adherence of commercial bus drivers and road safety
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