ANALYSIS OF ROAD TRAFFIC ACCIDENT IN MAJOR CITIES OF AKWA IBOM STATE, NIGERIA
Road traffic accidents’ statistics in Nigeria revealed a serious and growing problem with absolute fatality rate and casualty figures rising rapidly. The challenges of road traffic accidents in Nigeria have not left Akwa Ibom State untouched as the State also shares in the pandemic of frequent loss of lives of her citizenry. Akwa Ibom State has three major urban areas – Uyo, Ikot Ekpene and Eket. In the recent past, the urban areas were identified by different types of road traffic collisions as a result of poor road way character. In Uyo for instance, “rear-end” collision especially at poor junctions and collisions involving pedestrian and motorcyclist (Okada) were very common. Head-on collision was very rampant in Ikot Ekpene while Eket experience “run-off” road traffic crashes. Now, significant road improvements have been recorded in all the urban areas including the replacement of Okada by Tricycle (Keke) in Uyo metropolis. However, it is not clear whether there is significant change in the pattern and nature of road traffic accidents in the area as was speculated because there are no current literatures on road traffic accidents in the area. The study aimed at analyzing the nature and pattern of road traffic accidents in the three major urban areas of Akwa Ibom State. The objectives were to: (i) examine the nature of road traffic accidents in the study area, (ii) determine the predominant factors responsible for road traffic accidents in the areas, (iii) examine the influence of each of the contributory factors to road traffic accidents in the areas and (iv) determine whether there are differences in the rate of road traffic accidents in the areas. Survey research was designed in this study. Both primary and secondary data were used in the study. Primary data were collected with the aid of structured questionnaire and interviews. Secondary data which include records of road traffic accidents in Akwa Ibom State from 1990 – 2012 were obtained mainly from published materials by the Federal Road Safety Commission Annual Reports. A total of four hundred (400) copies of questionnaire were administered across the three urban areas of the state. The purposive and simple random sampling techniques were used in the study. The Taro Yamane formula for the derivation of finite population was used to obtain the sample size of 400 respondents from a population of 795,436 which is a total population of Uyo, Ikot Ekpene and Eket urban areas. Road traffic personnel (Road Safety, Traffic Warden, The Police and Civil Defense), motorist and urban residents formed the sample population for the study. A total number of 385 copies of questionnaires were completed and returned representing 96.3% utilization. The study shows that there was an upward and downward pattern in the rate of road traffic accidents in the urban areas from 1990 to 2006. The rate increases from 1990 – 1993 in Uyo urban and between 1991 – 1993 in Ikot Ekpene urban and between 1997 – 1999 and 2001 – 2003 in Eket urban while the rate decreases generally from 2007 to 2012 in the entire area. The study revealed that the predominant factors responsible for road traffic accidents in the area include; increased population, average road width, average number of lanes, presence of road safety, dangerous driving, dangerous overtaking, sleeping on steering, route violation, night journey, traffic signs violation, driving under the influence of alcohol, overloading, traffic light violation, use of gsm phone while driving, tire burst, break failure, mechanically deficient vehicle, stationary vehicle/ obstruction, bad road and poor weather. The study shows the influence of the contributory factors in descending order thus; presence of road safety (0.985), night journey (0.960), sleeping on steering (0.953), traffic light violation (0.898), traffic signs violation (0.889), increased population (0.880), route violation (0.866), dangerous overtaking (0836), stationary vehicle/ obstruction (0.835), average number of lanes (0.806), driving under alcoholic influence (0.802), break failure (0.784), bad roads (0.701), average road width (0.688), dangerous driving (0.672), poor weather (0.660), tire burst (0.343), mechanically deficient vehicle (0.315), use of GSM phone while driving (0.295) and overloading (0.183). The study also revealed that there was significant differences in the rate of road traffic accidents in the three urban areas (F = 9.726, p < 0.05 significant level). The study recommends constant training of drivers to ensure adherence to road traffic regulations. Adequate funding of traffic personnel/ operations to aid contemporary/ practical approach in the management of road traffic system, and the adoption of preventive measures through the use of road design among others.