Speed Limiter: FRSC’s hyperbolic solution for over speeding?

A crashed Lexus jeep belonging to the late Nigeria’s Minister of State for Labour and Productivity, James Ocholi, who died along the Kaduna-Abuja highway.  (inset) FRSC Corps Marshal, Boboye Oyeyemi

A crashed Lexus jeep belonging to the late Nigeria’s Minister of State for Labour and Productivity, James Ocholi, who died along the Kaduna-Abuja highway. (inset) FRSC Corps Marshal, Boboye Oyeyemi

From April 1, 2016, the enforcement of speed limiter device by the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) is expected to take effect across the country, particularly for all commercial motor vehicles and thereafter all vehicles.

If this happens, a device called speed limiter , also referred to as ‘governor’ will be installed in every vehicle operating across the nation’s highways to restrict speed to a pre-set limit.

Tied to the United Nation’s ‘Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020’ and introduced in collaboration with related agencies, the commission, which says over speeding remains a leading cause of road accident in the country, maintained that the initiative would drastically reduce accident rate in the country.

The UN General Assembly in its resolution on “Improving global road safety” in April 2004, had launched the decade of action along with the World Health Organisation to reduce road accident across the world.

With a road network totaling about 204, 000 kilometres and about 12.76 million registered motor vehicles and motorcycles; Nigeria is described as one of the countries with the highest number of death resulting from road crashes. Ranking by the WHO shows that Nigeria has the highest rate of accidents in the world.

In fact, reports stated that road accidents kill more people than malaria in developing countries and consider Nigeria as one of the countries with the highest number of unsafe roads in Africa.

WHO said that excessive speeding, drunk-driving, motorcycle helmets, seat-belts and child restraints are the top five road accident risk factors.

According to safety experts, enforcing use of speed limiter maybe crucial, considering the fact that speed itself has been identified as a key risk factor in road traffic injuries, influencing both the risk of a road crash as well as the severity of the injuries that result from crashes.

Speed limiter can lower speed results in less fuel consumption by vehicles, cuts down vehicle maintenance cost and slows down depreciation valuer, impact positively on changing the individual driving behaviour, which has been hard to achieve over the years, reduce the speed of vehicle to pre-set limit thus reducing overall crash risk and likely to lessen severity of crash.

Experts believe speed limiters would engender good monitoring mechanism for vehicle owners’ fleet operators, create compliance with the ECOWAS mandate, fulfillment of the Corps statutory functions through good practice, eliminate losses associated with speed related crashes among other advantages.

Investigations shows that a sum of N35,000 and an additional N1,000 for its installation would be paid to FRSC.When The Guardian visited some commercial transport companies, some stakeholders admitted that the initiative remained key to a safer Nigeria, while others complained of poor awareness.

The initiative seems laudable but safety experts argued said that the FRSC must look beyond speed restriction to implementing policies as well as collaborative methods that would make citizens create zero tolerance against road crashes.

The House of Representatives had questioned FRSC to justify the compulsory use of speed limiters by motorists, stating that apart from its unit price of N36,000, the technology maybe “outdated”.

A Nigerian Intelligent Transport Systems researcher at Linköping University, Sweden Adeyemi Adedokun said: “Except the devices are locally produced from the FRSC research laboratory if there is anything like that, the proposed speed limiter device by the FRSC is a step in the wrong direction.

According to him, the initiative seems more of a business venture than a safety initiative. Adedokun said: “The FRSC must understand that speed is relative and let this guide their initiatives. FRSC must work hand-in-hand with road designers and Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIO) to ensure that roads are built and maintained with safety features relative to their allowed speed limit such as guardrails, and that vehicles operating on the roads especially commercial are up to safety standard”

According to the policy initiative and mandate of the Commission, the regulation on compulsory use of speed limiting device on vehicles in Nigeria has been in the FRSC Establishment Act and the National Road Traffic Regulation since 2004 and retained in the subsequent amendments as highlighted below:

Part V11: “All motor vehicles plying the highway shall be in possession of good electric or air horn, jack, wheel spanner, tools, fire extinguisher, inflated spare tyre, first aid box, emergency warning triangles or cones, laminated windscreen and mirror, speed governor, wipers, insurance certificate and road worthiness certificate.”

Part V111:”A person driving or in control of a motor vehicle on any highway shall –
Not drive at a speed exceeding 50km/hr in any town, village, residential or industrial area, as illustrated in Schedule 8 or may be shown on speed sign along the road”.

Part X1:”The minimum speed of any motor vehicle shall be 45km/hr and maximum speed 100km/hr, except where otherwise indicted by a sign as prescribed in Section 9 of these Regulations”.
“Determining and enforcing speed limits for all categories of roads and vehicles and controlling the use of speed limiting devices”.

Also, Part XIII, Section 153, Sub-Section (4) of the National Road Traffic Regulation (NRTR 2012), which deals with speed limits states:
“A person shall not drive a vehicle on any public road which is not fitted with a speed limiter”.

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