If you are a parent, then you need to patiently read through this piece and commit to embrace a safer driving habit henceforth. This piece was published some months ago but is being refreshed because of the increasing bad driving habits among parents. As a parent I don’t know if you have ever lost a child through a road crash. I also do not know how many cars you own and what value you place on your car. Please forgive me for these questions. They are necessary in laying the foundation for today’s discussion.Of course if you are one of my regular readers, you must have read some of my write-ups on child safety.
As a road safety officer, child safety remains my passion. This passion is driven by my belief that as a Christian, my work is my ministry-what my pastor would call my market place.Secondly,the love of my three lovely sons and the need to leave a legacy of safer roads drives me to promote safe and best practices for children. These two driving forces were reinforced when I had the privilege to travel to Cape Town in South Africa for a training program some years ago.During the visit, I saw volunteers provide traffic calming measures to protect black kids in a black neighborhood in Gordon’s Bay. These volunteers refused to sit on the fence, but rather took a stand to protect the group we all call the leaders of tomorrow.
Back home,the reverse is the case as we leave everything to God,instead of taking a stand to protect children whose birth we all gladly celebrate with so much partying.As a parent,or guardian,do you know of the provisions of section 58(4) of the National Road Traffic Regulations, 2004 which makes it mandatory for all occupants of a vehicle to use a seat-belt for their safety? Do you know that this provision covers children, also? When I stressed you with those questions, I merely wanted to challenge your consciousness to the dangers we expose our children to, despite our claim that we love and cherish them so much. Most of us who have heeded the Federal Road Safety Commissions’ call to use seat belt, unfortunately do not see any sense in protecting our children while driving by strapping them. Some lap them. Others leave them unattended in moving vehicles.
Some claim strapping these kids in a car seat is alien.This group maintain that strapping children in a car is meant for the Whiteman,not a BlackmanI believe this group knows what they are saying.Afterall,these vehicles were manufactured in Oshodi by our engineers. Others say the cost for a car seat is high even though the cheapest among these cars cost as low as N500,000 while others go for as high as N5million or more, compared to car seats which range from just about N25,000 for the protection of the life of God’s precious gift. These same parents would not mind hanging out with friends and business partners to spend thousands on drinks, pepper-soup and other extras.The female ones would prefer spending thousands of Naira on designer shoes and bags, but not on the safety of their children.This is what we call choices.
It has been over 13 years since the Corps came up with the seat belt driving culture. Despite the level of successes recorded so far, a greater percentage of parent s and guardians don’t care about child safety. Daily, these children, whether in school buses or family vehicles, are transported without any iota of safety. This worry is responsible for the ongoing partnership between the Commssion and the Nigerian Society of Engineers aimed at raising safety awareness on children safety.
For the records, I wish to remind you that Road safety crisis is the leading cause of preventable deaths; the third largest cause of disabilities. In Africa it is the second largest cause of deaths after Aids/HIV.In the same Africa, there s generally no costing, or reliable data except for few countries, thus making cost of crashes difficult to estimate except for few countries. A study has shown that 10% of global road deaths occurred in Africa though only four per cent of world’s registered vehicles are in the continent. This study posits that if reporting of road crashes were to improve, the road crash index in the Continent will be different as it most likely would show more deaths. South Africa and Nigeria, according to this study accounts for most of the reported deaths.
These deaths, according to the study are caused mostly by human error, and vehicle factors that include the following;over-speeding,dangerous overtaking, alcohol and drug abuse, negligence of drivers, poor driving standards, overloaded people or goods vehicles, poor tyre maintenance, burst Tyre,bad roads and hilly terrain, negligence of pedestrians, distraction of drivers by passengers,cell phone use among others.
The truth is that the World is concerned about child safety.This is because road traffic injuries alone are the leading cause of death among children 15-19 years and the second leading cause among 10-14 years old.These injuries are not inevitable.They are preventable.Ironically most parents are not concerned,going by their actions behind the wheels.Signs of these concern are legion.
Unlike this pervading attitude by parents, global concern is increasing. Recall that the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by almost all government, states that children around the world have a right to a safe environment, and to protection from injury and violence. The Convention stresses the responsibilities of society to protect children (from birth up to the age of 18years).The 2000 United Nations Millennium Development Goals resolution sets as its fourth goals, the need to reduce by two thirds the mortality rates of children under the age of five years.
In 2002, the United Nations General Assembly held a special session on children, from which a document, A World Fit for Children, was produced. This document sets out a number of health goals for children. One of such goals which is specific to injuries calls on all Member States to,’’reduce child injuries due to accidents or other causes through the development and implantation of appropriate measures.’’ In 2005, the same WHO and UNICEF issued calls for greatly expanded global effort to prevent child injury. This was followed in 2006 by WHO’s ten year plan of activities on child injury.
In addition,the WHO/UNICEF in 2008 in a report, titled, World report on Child injury prevention, expressed concern that every day around the world, the lives of more than 2000 families are torn apart by the loss of a child to an unintentional injury or so-called ‘’accidents’’ that could have been prevented…’’It noted that children injuries have been neglected for many years. Children’s maturity and their interest and needs differ from adults, the report further stated.Therefore; simply reproducing injury prevention strategies that are relevant to adult does not adequately protect children, it warned. The report affirmed that there are proven interventions such as child seat which is the trust of this campaign.
Others include, cycling helmets, child- resistant packaging for medications, fencing around swimming pools, hot water tap temperature regulations and window guards,to name a few (Thisday)