by Paul Chika Emekwulu
With a smile he said, “Well, let’s see if such a book will bring a change.” That was a cousin of mine talking when I told him I was writing a road safety handbook. I must point out here that by saying that he wasn’t in doubt of my ability to write such a book. What I’m saying to him and others like him is that: Yes, such a book will bring a change if we respect the laws, yes such a book will bring a change if Nigerians start embracing orderliness as a value, yes such a book will bring a change if Nigerians decide individually and collectively to be more disciplined, yes such a book will bring a change if Nigerians decide to be more patient etc. Nigerians are too physical (What we can see, what we can hear, what we can touch, what we can smell and what we can taste.
It can’t all be about dollars and cents and it can’t all be about naira and kobo. Unfortunately, the problem is that Nigerians are very impatient people who have problem with discipline and orderliness. On one hand, some of us admit this attitude of the mind with a smile, others with some seriousness, and on the hand, others dismiss it with a simple wave of the hand.
Now, there are certain things the readers of this handbook have to know. Many decades ago, if someone had told me I would at this time of my life write a road safety handbook, I would have had a barrage of questions. Among others I would have asked, “Write a road safety handbook as a serving or a retired vehicle inspection officer (VIO) or as a serving or a retired police officer or as a serving or a retired staff of a Federal Road Safety Center (FRSC) or as a serving or a retired traffic warden?” These questions and others would have been on my list. I would have also asked,” Are you crazy?” or “Are you out of your mind?”
None of the above is a part of my background. Not at all! Then why am I writing this book and what’s my background for doing so? Let me start with what I’m not. First,
(1) I’m not writing this book because I’m a serving or a retired police officer because I’m not.
(2) I’m not writing this book because I’m a serving or a retired traffic warden because I’m not.
(3) I’m not writing this book because I’m a serving or a retired staff of a FRSC because I’m not.
(4) I’m not writing this book because of my experience as a retired vehicle inspection officer and so on because I’m not.
Now, why am writing this book?
First, I’m writing this book because of the right and the experience I have as a road user. Any road user has to be concerned about safety.
By the way:
(1) You don’t have to be a police officer to be concerned about safety.
(2) You don’t have to be a yraffic warden to be concerned about safety.
(3) You don’t have to be a staff of a FRSC to be concerned about safety.
(4) You don’t have to be a VIO to be concerned about safety.
(5) You don’t have to be in any type of uniform to be concerned about safety.
Second, I am writing this book because I’m a concerned road user, and a safe driving advocate living in a society governed by two forces – good and evil which exist disproportionately in favour of evil (Psalm 52:3, John 3:19). We have to remember that we don’t have perfect human beings and when you don’t have perfect human beings you don’t have a perfect society and when you don’t have a perfect society you don’t have perfect streets and when you don’t have perfect human beings and perfect streets you don’t expect to have accident free streets. Therefore, another goal of mine for writing this handbook is not to have accident free streets because it is not a social reality.
Accidents are artificial evil and evil cannot be stamped out from the world we all live in. Accidents are inevitable but if simple traffic rules and regulations are obeyed, incidents and consequently accidents can be brought to the barest minimum.
In the words of Albert Einstein, “The world is dangerous not because of those who do the evil but because of those who do not do anything about it.” Edmund Burke said the same thing equally well when he said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Listen to John L. Mason when he says, “The problems of this world have been caused by the weakness of goodness rather than by the strength of evil.”
In other words, the street is dangerous for us all to drive in:
(1) Not because of those drivers who run the red lights.
(2) Not because of the youths who throw rocks at passing vehicles.
(3) Not because of those impatient drivers.
(4) Not because of those passers- by who encourage disobedience at the lights.
(5) Not because of the “ọkada” motorcyclists who always congest at the sides of these traffic lights encouraging red light running.
(6) Not because of the motorcyclist who doesn’t blow his or her horn while approaching and overtaking other road users.
(7) Not because of the driver who meanders unnecessarily around potholes thereby risking his or her life and those of others.
(8) Not because of drivers who don’t respect the rights of other road users thinking they are right.
(9) Not because of drivers who think they are the kings and queens of the road.
(10) Not because of some motorcyclists whose mirrors are partially or totally absent and so on.
Rather, it is because of for example, passengers who keep quiet when a driver is over speeding or not being courteous enough and cursing a passenger or passengers. It is because of passengers who look the other way and feel unconcerned when the driver is sleepy or on the phone talking or texting. It is because of some homes that fail to offer hospitality to stranded motorists and strangers (of course all things being equal). It is because of road users who fail to show appreciation for good deeds done to them while in the street. It is because of passengers who keep quiet when their prospective driver is busy consuming alcohol hoping to occupy the driver’s seat in a few minutes or hours.
The excuse of such drivers is that the journey is a long one. Again always remember the words of Albert Einstein about the world being dangerous not because of those who do the evil things on our roads (the negative incidents), but because of those who fail to take action by speaking, challenging and writing about these negative incidents. Doing so will surely make our streets safer.
Before you continue reading this handbook:
(1) Don’t wait until you buy a vehicle.
(2) Don’t wait until you buy a motorcycle.
(3) Don’t wait until you get your driver’s license.
(4) Don’t wait until you reach the driving age of 18.
(5) Don’t wait until you start learning how to drive.
(6) Don’t wait until you get a violation which is usually followed by a traffic ticket.
Rather, read this handbook and get empowered with information which is still power but more power when used responsibly. Making our roads safer is all our individual and collective responsibility. We should all be participants, and you don’t have to be in uniform to participate. Drive safely!