FRSC Versus Killer Tyres

By Comrade Timi Frank

How many of us that drive can boast of intimate knowledge of the workings of the different parts of our vehicles? According to experts, many motorists don’t know the workings of their vehicles, especially the tyres. We know how to drive agreed. But how much do we know of the idiosyncrasies of vehicle which differ from one vehicle type to another? Experts say that ability to drive is not enough antidote to Road Traffic Crashes (RTC). Ignorance on the part of drivers has been blamed for many an accident on our highways. Lamentably, fatalities and non- fatal injuries keep rising. Over the years the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has been campaigning vigorously against drunk – driving.

The Corps has also focused on overloading, fake or invalid drivers’ licence, cracked windshield, dangerous driving, and compulsory seatbelt use, etc, as the fulcrum of its crusade to reduce road traffic crashes (RTC) across the country. Writing on this column on May 10, 2016, this writer had called on the authorities to declare an emergency on RTC to curb increasing fatalities on our highways. This writer is glad to learn that the Corps had not been resting on its oars but had reasoned along the same line and actually convoked a stakeholders forum on substandard and used tyres on Monday May 9, 2016 to seek a solution to the rising menace. As one of the Action Plans emanating from from the Stakeholders Forum, the Corps decided to commence a nationwide tyre check to ensure that vehicles plying the roads are fitted with genuine and standard tyres as one of the measures to cut down incessant road carnages and attendant waste of precious lives and property.

This is a highly commendable step. This Column can only urge the authorities of the Corps to ensure that this laudable exercise which should henceforth be routine, is not selfishly hijacked by ‘unscrupulous officials’ to visit untold mental and psychological hardship on motorists. Such unprogressive conduct would not only stifle the efforts to reduce road crashes but bring about public apathy and uncooperativeness from motorists. Let education be the watch word. FRSC officers on routes to carry out the assignment must realize that their overarching duty is to reduce road accidents by uncovering and pointing out to motorists, the defects and abnormalities in their tyres  in particular and their vehicles in general, and the likelihood of predisposing them to crashes if not urgently corrected.

As a follow up on the Forum, an Assistant Corps Marshall (ACM) of the FRSC, Jonas Agwu, had penultimate week, in his piece entitled: “Know Your Tyre” in Leadership Newspaper of May 14, 2016, painted a grim picture of accidents that occur due to tyre burst.

A man who  lived in the US for many years said that the major cause of tyre burst in Nigeria is that we put too much pressure in our tyres and that each car has recommended tyre size and pressure clearly written on it by the manufacturer. I was surprised and begged him to come and show me where it is written on my car. To my greatest surprise, it is by the driver’s door . By the time we checked, the recommended pressure for my tyres is 32! And I just travelled with tyres on a pressure of 50! He took me to me round his compound and showed me that of the cars (which included a jeep and a sienna) , the highest was 32. Some were even 29! He further explained that tyres are made of rubber and expands at high temperature. So, when you are traveling in the afternoon when the asphalt on the road is hot, the tyre will want to expand. If the pressure in the tyre is too much and wouldn’t accommodate expansion, a burst is likely to happen at that time.”

Continuing on the same trajectory  last week, Agwu said he had forgotten to mention in the earlier piece referenced above that between February and April 2016, 70 road traffic crashes recorded were attributable to tyre burst. He equally said he forgot to say that tyre related crashes were responsible for 5,255 vehicles involved in road traffic crashes from 2011 to 2015. He added that in a survey conducted by the Corps, on the use of tyres on Nigerian roads, ignorance was found to be a key factor in the wrong use of tyres. “In the survey,” according to the FRSC chief, “2,486 vehicles and 10,024 tyres were considered and the result showed that, non-expired tyres accounted for 39 per cent while expired tyres stood at 61 per cent. The survey on the percentage of vehicles using tukunbo, re-bored and new tyres also showed that the percentage of vehicles using new tyres was 50 per cent, tokunbo 35 per cent while re-bore was 15 per cent.” Another interesting revelation from the FRSC stakeholders forum on tyres, according to Agwu is that many vulcanizers use non-properly calibrated measuring tools while some lack basic knowledge of measurement of tyre pressure. He noted that there is arbitrary gauging of tyres without recourse to manufacturer’s specifications as a result of “common ignorance, inability to interpret basic tyre manufacturer information, manufactured/expiry date – load index-speed rating and control challenge.”

This column is of the view that the FRSC as a lead agency for keeping our roads have in the past placed high premium in the behaviour of drivers as a way of mitigating carnages. It is now time for the Corps to deploy the same vigour to tackle one of the highest critical factor in road crashes which is tyre burst. They must also of necessity cast their net further afield to bring under their direct supervision and regulation those whose vocation it is to fit these tyres to vehicles or mend them when they get bad – Vulcanizers.

Yes, the focus on the drivers is justified. A driver is either the owner or driving with the authority of a vehicle owner. Transport vehicles come in two forms. Commercial or private. However, both commercial and private operators of vehicles have been found to suffer the same malaise that lead to avoidable crashes,  which is crass ignorance of the workings of the vehicles they drive, most especially the tyres which not only bear the entire weight of the vehicle but make direct contact with the road – whether good or bad – throughout the duration of any journey. We have heard cases of used and standards tyres, rebored tyres, retreaded tyres and expired tyres. These I believe should be the focus of vehicle check exercise commenced by the FRSC. It should not be a revenue generation venture for the FRSC or its officials.  Let the public testify of a genuine and patriotic operation aimed at preventing  accidents and by extension safeguarding the lives and property. Let the public enlightenment not be limited to routes only. The campaign should as well be carried out in the mass media through radio, television, newspapers, social media, Internet adverts, bill boards and all other platforms, including the use of local languages to make the message sink. I believe that by so doing the FRSC would be fulfilling its primary mandate of preventing accidents rather than being ‘undertakers’ during rescue operations at accidents scenes.

As part of efforts to drastically minimize carnages on our roads, the FRSC should not only bring vulcanizers under their purview, they should henceforth show active interest in the type of tyres imported into the country through inter-agency synergy with the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON), the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS). This collaboration would ensure that tyres that do not meet required quality and standard are not distributed for sale in auto markets across the country. The FRSC has already showed leadership by certifying driving schools for the training of drivers and by ensuring that fresh drivers’ licence applicants undergo mandatory training and certification from approved driving schools. I think the ongoing enlightenment and sensitization on tyre use should focus both on drivers and vulcanizers. The Corps will do well to deploy its men to interrogate vulcanizers in order to ascertain their working knowledge. Where any vulcanizer is found to be deficient, he should be sent for a refresher course in an auto clinic on the modern art of vulcanizing and precise instrument use. Above all, the FRSC must insist on the retraining and certification of these ubiquitous tradesmen if they are to succeed in redressing this critical contributory  factor to most RTCs.

Source: Leadership Newspaper

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