By Babatunde Savage, PhD
Continuing education of all drivers is a requirement that should be included in the various safety plans for the prevention of road accidents. The result will be safer roadways, lower insurance premium, reduced loss of life and reduced accident-related disabling injuries.
Statistics indicate that motor-vehicle accident is a leading cause of work-related deaths and there are no safety standards that mandate or even recommend a fleet safety program or driver training for non-commercial drivers. Why should driving be an exception when it is the most hazardous activity people engage in on a daily basis? It should be noted that safety training is only one of several important components of a comprehensive programme. The training programme should address requirements for new drivers, continuing education of existing drivers and instances where remedial training shall be required.
The various highway safety plans have contributed greatly to the decline in traffic deaths by recommending successful traffic safety programmes, tougher legislation, improved roadways, faster emergency responses and stronger enforcement. This could be enhanced with required education of all drivers.
And while the strategic highway safety plan targets five basic issues: Driver and occupant’s behaviour, other special users, roadways, emergency medical services and traffic information system.
Traffic safety list eight priority areas including alcohol and other drugs, occupant protection, pedestrian and bicycle safety, police traffic service and motorcycle safety.
Highway safety strategic plan list these priorities: impaired driving, police traffic services, motorcycle safety, pedestrian bicycle and wheel sports safety, occupant protection, traffic records and community traffic safety programmes.
Another plan targets 10 issues: Alcohol and other impaired driving, driver behaviour and awareness, highway-railroad grade crossing, information systems for decision making, intersections, large trucks, roadway departure, safety belts, occupant protection, vulnerable users and work zones.
What we are driving at in all of these is that none of these initiatives includes continuing driver education. Most people do not seek defensive driver training on their own. Some undergo refresher training if their job requires driving and some take driver training e.g. (55-alive for the older driver) to insurance premiums.
Most education programme consists of at least 30 hours of classroom instruction and six behind the wheel.
In terms of the odds of being involved in an accident or moving violation, drivers who did not participate in driver safety training were over a 10 year period of time, eight times more likely to be involved in an accident than drivers who participated in driver training and 10 times more likely to be arrested for a moving violation than drivers who participated in driver safety training.
Even veterans trainers can be surprised by what experienced drivers do not know. For example, many experienced drivers are not aware that a DUI conviction is a criminal offence. Many are not aware when to stop for a school in opposite direction with red light flashing.
Furthermore, there are laws pertaining to cell phones or seatbelt use. Refresher training brings drivers up to speed on these regulations.
In 1998, OSHA issued voluntary training guidelines that serve as a model for training to use in developing, organizing, evaluating and editing safety training programmes. The guidelines follow this model:
- Determine whether training is needed
- Identify training needs
- Identify goals and objectives
- Develop learning activities
- Conduct training
- Evaluate program effectiveness
- Improver the program
- Ensure that training aligns with jobs tasks
Driver training or re-training as the case maybe could be required as a standard. Training is an effective solution to problems such as employee (driver) lack of understanding, unfamiliarity with equipment, incorrect execution. These same training guidelines could be used as part of the overall programs to reduce traffic accidents.
Conclusion: Motor vehicle crashes continue to be a leading cause of fatalities in Nigeria. While FRSC mandates initial and ongoing safety training in many regulations, the agency does not mandate a fleet safety programme or driver training for non-requirement for continuing driver education as part of comprehensive efforts to reduce traffic fatalities and disabling injuries is a major discrepancy when one considers the fatality rate each year.