|Year : 2015 | Volume
| Issue : 1 | Page : 12-15
A survey of commercial drivers' perception on the causes of road traffic accidents in Nigeria
Department of Dental Surgery, Maxillofacial Unit, University of Uyo Teaching Hospital, Uyo, Nigeria
|Date of Web Publication||7-Jan-2015|
Department of Dental Surgery, Maxillofacial Unit, University of Uyo Teaching Hospital, Uyo, PMB 1136, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
Background: Road traffic accident is a multifactorial phenomenon that affects victims to different degrees depending on the type of accident. The aim of this study was to study commercial driver's attitude and their perceived causes of accidents on Nigerian roads.
Methodology: A cross-sectional study of commercial drivers from various motor parks in a Nigerian urban city was carried out using questionnaires. Every volunteer was asked to complete a questionnaire that revealed patient demographics, age, education level, time of accident and perceived cause(s) of the accident. All participants were males and licensed drivers.
Results : Drivers in the age range of 38 - 47 years (n = 174; 46.77%) were mostly involved in road traffic accidents. Road accidents were much more prevalent on rural roads than on urban roads. Majority of the drivers (n = 198; 53%) had secondary level of education, while 112 drivers (30%) had primary level of education. One hundred and eight drivers (29.03%) believed the accidents were as a result of the road. 21.24% (79) stated that the time of the day, which could be in the daylight, dusk or at night, could influence road traffic accidents.
Conclusions : The drivers perceived that the nature of the road, time and weather are some of the major contributory factors to road accidents. However, it was deduced from the study that behavioral patterns on the road, violation of traffic rules and driving under the influence of alcohol were the major contributory factors in commercial drivers' involvement in vehicular accidents.
Keywords: Accidents, age, commercial, drivers, speed
|How to cite this article:|
Arthur N. A survey of commercial drivers' perception on the causes of road traffic accidents in Nigeria. J Med Trop 2015;17:12-5
| Introduction|| |
Road traffic accident is a multifactorial phenomenon that affects victims to different degrees depending on the type of accident.  There is generally increasing incidence of morbidity and mortality resulting from road traffic accidents.  An average of 3242 persons die each day around the world from road traffic injuries.  In Nigeria, trauma is the main reason for emergency room visits, and road traffic accidents are responsible for the majority of deaths.  Traffic speed strongly influences impact speed in crashes and therefore has major implications for public health.  Speeding, which is considered a direct attitude of drivers, largely contributes to the risk and severity of accidents and to the level of road traffic accident-related mortality , Among the factors that contribute to the speed-accidents relation is the driver's characteristics (demographic and psychological factors),  aspects related to the vehicle and factors related to the road environment as well as traffic regulations that differ from one country to another , It is estimated that one-third of deaths (32%) from accident is related to speeding, and the number seems to be increasing over the years. , Drivers' decision is influenced by a series of demographic characteristics (age, gender, driving experience, occupation, among others), by a series of psychological aspects or factors (motivations, beliefs, perceptions, attitudes, emotions, driving habits, etc.) as well as by the involvement and responsibility in traffic violations, among others. 
The literature is replete with several published reports on RTA globally, including Nigeria. There is no previous study from Uyo, an urban city in the South-South geopoliticalzone of Nigeria. The present study is a survey of commercial drivers' attitude and their perceived causes of road traffic accidents. The results of this study will add to the already existing data on causes of road traffic accidents in Nigeria.
| Methodology|| |
A cross-sectional study of commercial drivers from various motor parks at different locations in a Nigerian urban city was carried out using questionnaires after obtaining their consent for participation in the research. Comprehensive standardized questionnaires were administered to the targeted respondents, all male, to elicit the required data. The information collected were the age, education level, time of accident and their perceived cause(s) of the accidents. Accident information for each driver over the last 2 years was also obtained. For the purpose of this study, an "accident" was defined as the collision of the index case's vehicle with a stationary or moving object or as driving off the road in the absence of an obstacle. All participants were licensed drivers. Unlicensed drivers and drivers who have never been involved in an accident were excluded from the study. The speeds at which drivers chose to drive on the public road as well as personal characteristics obtained from questionnaires were recorded.
The data were analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS version 16). Categorical variables were presented as frequencies and percentages. Correlation and inferential statistics were performed using the Pearson chi square or Fisher's exact tests as appropriate. A P < 0.05 was regarded as statistically significant.
| Results|| |
A total of 372 commercial drivers who had been involved in at least one or more accidents in the past participated in the study. Drivers in the age group of 38 - 47 years (46.77%) were mostly involved in road traffic accidents. This was followed by the 48 - 59 years (24.73%) age category. The lowest percentage of 0.54% was recorded among drivers in the age range of 68 - 77 years, with only two drivers [Table 1]. Age was inversely and consistently related to frequency of accidents (P for linear trend: <0.001). [Table 1] also indicates that most of the drivers (n = 198; 53%) have secondary level of education, followed by those with a primary educational level (n = 112; 30%).
[Table 2] shows the perceived cause of road traffic accident by the drivers. One hundred and eight drivers (29.03%) believed that accidents were a result of the road. Seventy-nine (21.24%) had the perception that the time of the day, which could be in the daylight, dusk or at night, could influence road traffic accidents. [Table 3] shows the behavioral factors of the commercial drivers; majority of the accidents were caused by over speeding (n = 134; 36.02%), followed by fatigue (n = 116; 31.18%). Driving under the influence of alcohol accounted for 85 (22.85%), and the least number of accidents was due to distractions by passengers. Accidents occurred more frequently on smooth roads (n = 72; 19.35%) than rough roads (n = 47; 12.63%). More accidents were recorded on wet roads (n = 89; 23.92%) as against only eight accidents (2.16) on dry roads. Similarly, single carriage way recorded more accidents (n = 257; 69.09%) than the dual carriage ways [Table 4]. The number of times the commercial drivers were involved in road traffic accidents is displayed in [Table 5]; majority of them claimed to have been involved twice. There was a significant correlation with behavioral factors (alcohol, distractions, fatigue and speed) and the frequency of previous accidents (r = 0.908; P < 0.001).
| Discussion|| |
The factors that lead to traffic accidents are multifactorial and are related.  The most common age group of drivers involved in accidents in the study was between 38 and 47 years (46.77%). This is not consistent with other studies where age group between 21 and 40 years was the most commonly affected. , The current study targeted only commercial drivers. There are no previous studies to compare the figure recorded in this study. The study indicates that most of the commercial drivers fall within this age group. The number of drivers in the youngest age group (18 - 27 years) is lower (6.72%) than in the older age group. The study showed that younger drivers had less risk of involvement in accidents than elderly drivers, which is in contrast to another study that indicates that older drivers are relatively safe drivers and young drivers have the greatest number of accidents.  This study indicates that accident rates increases with age. Older drivers are significantly more likely to be involved in accidents.  Researchers have used the distance travelled and exposure by different age groups to calculate the risk of collision and reported that older drivers are more frequently involved in road accidents. 
Majority of the drivers had a lower level of education. This is similar to another study by Joly et al.  This can be explained by the fact that drivers in this socio-educational class has little knowledge of road safety rules and learned driving on their own. 
Eighty-five (22.8%) drivers had met with an accident while under the influence of alcohol. This figure is higher than the 18% recorded by Jha et al.  in a study conducted in India. This shows that there is gross negligence and abuse of alcohol by commercial drivers. Educating the public through mass media and road safety campaigns may help in reducing this incidence.
Majority (n = 72) of the drivers had accidents on a smooth road as against 47 on a rough road. This is probably due to the fact that drivers tend to speed and are reckless on smooth roads. More accidents occurred on single carriage ways than on dual carriage ways. This study is in contrast to one carried out by Mohan,  who reported more accidents on four-lane sections. About 70% of the accidents occurred in the daytime. This shows that majority of the commercial drivers travel in the daylight.
The behavioral patterns of the drivers were recorded, with speeding having the highest figure of 134 (36.02%). There are evidences that speeding is the major contributory factor to the risk of vehicular accidents. , Speeding decreases the probability to prevent a collision.  Reports have shown that drivers under 34 years old are more likely to exceed the speed limits while drivers 55 years old and above are likely to be excessively slow.  On the contrary, Fildes et al.  showed that drivers around 40 years old are less likely to exceed speed limits
Road structure and time of day of the occurrence are connected to the accidents. Researchers have found similar results and attribute higher accident rate to the early hours, to drinking and driving as well as speeding.  This was supported by the results of the present study.
| Conclusions|| |
The drivers perceived that the nature of the road, time and weather are some of the major contributory factors to road accidents. However, it was deduced from the study that behavioral patterns on the road, violation of traffic rules and driving under the influence of alcohol were the major contributory factors in commercial drivers, involvement in vehicular accidents. The research has also shown that there are important age-related patterns in driving risk. Medical examinations for fitness to drive should be supported to eliminate the psychological factors that lead to violation of traffic rules among the drivers. The results of this study provide a broader view of the phenomenon of traffic accidents based on its analysis of characteristics of the road and the individual commercial drivers involved.
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[Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5]