FRSC’s speed limiters in Nigeria – a victory or a loss?

The Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), has introduced speed limiter devices, which should be installed in commercial vehicles, effective from the 1st of September. The new technology has been introduced to combat the frequency of road accidents in the country.

The speed limiter, also known as a governor operates through electronic sensors connected to a car engine computer which manages all the engine functions. The sensors detect how fast a car is moving, then communicate that information to the engine’s computer. Once the car reaches a preprogrammed speed limit, the computer restricts the flow of air and fuel into the engine, so the car is forced to stop. To get the speed limiter device, a sum of N35,000 and an additional N1,000 for its installation will be paid to FRSC.

Nigeria, with the population of 178.5 million has over 7.6 million cars plying its 194,000 kilometer road network. This statistics show that there is a high pressure on the road network which makes the prevalence of road accidents high. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are 33.7 deaths per 100,000 population in Nigeria every year, making it one of the countries with the highest number of fatalities in Africa. As a result of these fatalities, WHO tagged Nigeria a ‘health concern’

The Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Road Safety Corps, Boboye Oyeyemi, while addressing major stake holders in the transport sector identified excessive speed as the major responsible factor for 50.8 percent of road crashes that occurred across the country in 2014. In order to address the reoccurrence FRSC has set the speed limit for commercial vehicles at 80 km/hr, while private vehicles’ limit is 100km/hr.

In Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, over 1.5 million people commute using commercial vehicles. This is one of the many reasons why FRSC has ordered that commercial vehicles should install speed limiters. Speed limiters are used in countries such as Europe and Great Britain and are fast gaining grounds in Africa, with its implementation in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.  While speed limiters have proved to ensure safety for road users, they also have other benefits like low fuel consumption and low gas emission into the atmosphere. What makes this latest move distinct, considering the performance of FRSC’s past safety initiatives with little effect?

FRSC has implemented initiatives which have neither been affordable nor made a significant contribution to road safety—for instance, the new plate numbers and drivers’ license scheme. Even though the motive may have been triggered by concerns over the high traffic death tolls, the road safety commission needs to ensure its practical value before enforcing it.

Another thing to consider is the effect on the public. If commercial vehicles implement these speed limiters, there might be a corresponding increase in transportation fare due to the costs incurred. A restrictive speed limit may also do more harm than good as this could make both drivers and passengers vulnerable to attacks on the highway. While the FRSC is set to launch today, the next few months will prove key as they attempt to sensitise commercial drivers to the new technology and hopefully win the support of Nigerians.

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