There are many causes of road accidents involving haulage trucks and tanker trucks in Nigeria but one of the major causes is poor safety attitude of the truck owners and truck drivers towards road safety. Road transport system, as it were, is an important element in economic growth. Surprisingly, it is also a great problem that affects the growth of the economy of a nation and the lives of the citizens at large.
For instance, in 2006 to 2013, 41,118 deaths were recorded in Nigeria from road accidents. Source: FRSC.
In addition, in 2014, World Health Organization (WHO) showed that Nigeria had the highest road fatalities with 33,700 out of every 100,000 segments every year.
Without any iota of doubt, road transport is an indispensable element; yet it is a great problem that is fast depleting human resources.
However, in the world today, there are several reasons or causes of road traffic crashes involving haulage and tanker trucks that may appear not to be a direct mistake or fault of the truck drivers.
However, in Nigeria there are common notable causes of road traffic crashes involving haulage trucks. They are common events mostly identified by FRSC that give rise to large truck crashes on Nigerian roads. These are:
Dangerous and reckless driving
- Dangerous driving and reckless or careless driving.
- Over speeding
- Tyre burst/violation
- Brake failure
- Overloading violation
- Undue transportation business- driven factor
Reckless or careless driving is a notable cause of road accidents. This is said to occur when truck drivers drive on the roads without reasonable consideration for other road users, most especially car drivers or drivers of smaller vehicles.
Dangerous driving, on the other hands, simply means an act of a motorist that leads to a fatal or serious accident. In other words, it is unsafe driving of a motorist that leads to the death of other road users. The simple difference between dangerous driving and reckless driving is that dangerous driving actually leads to an accident while reckless driving is a bid for an accident to occur.
A truck driver is said to drive dangerously when the way he drives is totally different from what should be expected from a complete careful driver and such an act must be clearly noticeable to other motorists that the way such trucker or driver drives on the road is highly dangerous to other motorists.
However, there are some avoidable acts which are rampant among truck drivers in Nigeria and which can easily lead to dangerous driving. These include:
- Driving too fast for road condition.
- Driving aggressively.
- Lack of good understanding of simple road signs and traffic rules
- Dangerous overtaking
- Driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol
- Driving at a time when there is need to rest, most especially during festive periods.
- Distraction in any form while driving.
Nevertheless, the statistics given by FRSC shows that 1,767 haulage and tanker trucks were involved in road accidents in 2009. The said statistics also shows that 1,085 people died while 3,714 people were seriously injured from the said accidents.
It is worthy of note that out of 1,767 road traffic crashes involving haulage trucks and tanker drivers in 2009, 292 accidents were caused by dangerous driving of truck drivers.
Going by FRSC statistics, it is obvious that from January to June 2010, a total number of 1,427 haulage and tanker trucks were involved in road accidents out of which Nigeria recorded 965 deaths while 3,220 people were seriously injured. The given statistics also shows that out of the said accidents, 265 accidents were related to speed violation.
Another unwanted act that can necessitate road traffic accidents in Nigeria is over speeding. It is not only motorists with smaller vehicles that do over speed on our public roads. Observations from individuals and organizations also show that haulage and tanker drivers also showcase their speed on the highway especially when the trucks are empty.
According to the U.S Census Bureau “in 2008, there were 37, 261 speed related traffic fatalities in U.S” Sources The Pulse.
Going by the given statistics, it becomes clear that over speed is a serious common problem in road transportation that needs an urgent attention not only in the developing countries but also in the developed countries.
Over speeding is an act or instance where a motorist deliberately decides to move his vehicle faster than what it is allowed by law. However, beyond this scope of definition, I see over speeding as an act of someone or motorist who moves the vehicle too fast for the road condition.
Tyre burst / violation
According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the U. S between 2009 and 2013, there were over 19,000 fatal crashes in the U.S involving heavy trucks and buses which killed almost 16,000 people. It is noted that tyres were a factor in 198 of these crashes and caused the death of 223 people.
From the above paragraph, it is clearly noticeable that road traffic accidents involving haulage and tanker trucks are also caused by tyre burst or tyre safety violation. It is important to note that tyres are designed in relation to a particular recommended speed by the manufacturer. Many truckers are ignorant of this fact; hence, they run their trucks at a speed above the recommended speed by the manufacturer. This may reduce the life expectancy of the tyre. Truly speaking, many truckers lack the necessary information on the tyres that carry them around.
For instance, in 2012, Vistal Press and Distribution Logistics Limited, a company, in Nigeria, in collaboration with Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), carried out an exercise at some motor parks to know if motorists comply with manufacturer’s recommended tyre air pressures. However, the result of the exercise showed that many of the motorists in Nigeria did not even know that their vehicles had any manufacturer’s recommended safety air pressures. Hence, they allow the roadside vulcanizers to determine their vehicle air pressures for them who are equally clueless about such information.
The manufacturer’s recommended safety air pressures are very important because it is the air pressure inside the tyre that actually supports or carries the weight or the load on the vehicle not the black round shape object around the wheel. Tyres are made primarily to contain compressed air pressures needed to carry the weight on the vehicle around.
Another important aspect to emphasize is the matching air pressures for dual assemble tyres. If one of the dual assemble tyres is inflated greater than the other tyre, probably by ‘4 psi or 6 psi’, the implication is that the tyre with greater compressed air pressure will be larger in terms of perimeter or circumference, therefore bearing the weight or the load alone. The result of this is that it will reduce the life expectancy of the tyre with greater air pressure. why? It is because the tyre with less air pressure will not have proper traction on the road.
Furthermore, in 2008, 1,655 haulage and tanker trucks were involved in road accidents in which 1,221 lives were lost while 3,891 people sustained various degrees of injury. The statistics showed that in the said road traffic accidents which involved 1,655 trucks, 108 of them were caused by tyre burst / violation. Source: FRSC.
Nonetheless, there are three most notable reasons why good maintenance of your tyre matters most in road transportation. They are highlighted as follows:
- It is in the best interest of your safety and that of others.
- It increases the life span of the tyres in your vehicle.
- It increases the fuel economy.
Road accidents, in Nigeria, in 2009, involving haulage and tanker trucks were 1,767 accidents. However, out of the given figures i.e (1,767 accidents), 106 accidents were identified as obstructions related accidents. Source: FRSC.
An obstruction, as it were, is any object or anything that affects or hinders the free flow of traffic. With this simple understanding, it implies that obstructions to traffic on road may occur or appear in different forms. Hence, following are the forms of obstructions to road traffic:
- Vehicles involving in a road accident.
- Breaking down of vehicles in the middle of the road.
- Unconventional road signs: it is a common practice among some motorists in Nigeria, seeing them putting weeds behind their broken down vehicles as a sign of caution but when their vehicles are fixed up later, they quickly drive away the vehicles leaving the weeds on the roads. This is an eye sore on public roads.
- Any object that falls on the road. e.g trees, electricity poles etc.
- Unauthorized vendors and traders encroaching on the road.
- A lunatic or an animal e.g. cow, walking in the middle of the road.
- Pothole: you can imagine an over loaded truck driver in a bid to evade potholes, such a vehicle may pose a serious danger to other road users.
- Refuse dumped on the road:
However, in some advanced nations, there are agencies with responsibility to ensure that the public road network is free from obstructions and it is also a punishable offence under the law if one is found guilty e.g in the U.S; North Ireland; etc. So, this will show to you that any of the obstructions is a serious problem that can make the public road unsafe to road users.
Brake failure and overloading violation
Brake failure is one of the major causes of accidents involving large and tanker trucks in Nigeria.
From January to June 2010, 1, 427 trucks were said to be involved in road traffic crashes (RTC) and 3,220 people were injured while 965 people were killed in just 6 months due to brake failure and overloading violation.
Brake failure can simply be caused by negligence on the part of the trucker and faulty installation.
Overloading, on the other hand, is when a truck is used to carry load that exceeds its original capacity; such a truck is prone to accidents. Let us imagine a driver of an overloaded heavy truck in a bid to evade one pothole and the other on the highway. Such a truck may pose a serious danger to other road users.
Moreover, overloading can cause the brake system of a truck to work harder and then get hotter than necessary. Consequently, these may lead to poor braking performance. It is also important to let you know that a typical articulated vehicle has nothing less than 10 brakes to work with and if any of these brakes loses its braking power, probably due to overloading of the truck or brake mis-adjustment or faulty installation, the brake load will be automatically transferred to the remaining brakes which consequently makes them to over work and with time, this may lead to a complete brake failure. If the brake of an overloaded truck on a sloppy highway suddenly loses its stopping power due to overloading, it is only God that can arrest the motion of such an overloaded truck. Truck overloading is dangerous and it is one the notable factors identified by FRSC as accounting for truck accidents and deaths on Nigerian roads.
Undue Transport Business-driven factor
It is important to note that some haulage transport company or truck owners allow their drivers to over work, most especially when there’s a rise in transport demand. It is obvious that there’s always an increase in transport demand during any festive period in Nigeria and this explains why there is a high rate of road accidents at such a time. For instance, in 2016, during an Easter break, Nigeria recorded 98 crashes and 77 deaths in road accidents. Source: FRSC Boss.
When there is a high demand for transport, what some transport companies or truck owners do in order to meet the demand is to increase the allowances for their drivers. Hence, those drivers who erroneously assume they are the most hit by the present economic situations in the country agree to go for as many trips as possible so as to make more money without such drivers having adequate rest and planning before embarking on their next trips. Consequently, you see many of them on the road driving for more than 16 hours without rest. Such truck drivers are always impatient on the road rushing to make more money.
When you allow a man to over work, this may lead to fatigue and sleeplessness. One can imagine the risks that may be involved when a truck driver suddenly falls asleep behind the wheel.
It is needless to say that journeys with longer durations must be carefully organized and planned for safety purpose.
Nevertheless, all the mentioned causes of road accidents involving haulage and tanker trucks in Nigeria can be traced to human factor. Therefore, they are avoidable accidents if all motorists and other road users can rise up to the task of making the road safer. Definitely, the high rate of road accidents involving haulage and tanker trucks will drastically reduce and consequently, the high rate of deaths and injuries usually sustained by victims will also be reduced. It is always good to be safety conscious.