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Cablegate: Nigerian Distracted Driving Statistics

VZCZCXRO5470
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHUJA #0322/01 0481004
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 171000Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0297
INFO ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 000322

SIPDIS
STATE PASS OES/S - FOSTERNC

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON SOCI UNDP UNGA EU NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIAN DISTRACTED DRIVING STATISTICS

REF: 10 STATE 703; 10 ABUJA 248

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SUMMARY

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1. The Nigerian Federal Road Safety Corps provided annual
statistics and information regarding the country's recent uptick in
distracted driving in response to Embassy's demarche (reftel A).
Cell phone usage while operating a motor vehicle in Nigeria is
illegal under federal law, yet, the Federal Road Safety Corps
observed an upsurge in the number of accidents resulting from
distracted driving from 2008 and 2009. The Federal Road Safety
Corps has coupled law enforcement efforts with broad public
awareness campaigns in its strategy to address this quantified
increase in distracted driving in Nigeria. END SUMMARY.

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PREVALENCE OF CELL PHONE USAGE WHILE DRIVING

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2. Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) Special Assistant to the Corps
Marshal Janet Adepegba reported that the prevalence of cell phone
usage by Nigerian motorists while driving has become a source of
concern. Motorists receiving and making calls, reading, typing,
and sending text messages has led to an increase in traffic
accidents and its attendant consequences. Precise statistics
concerning the prevalence of cell phone usage while driving are not
available, although the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC)
estimates that there are roughly 62,988,492 active mobile telephone
subscribers in the country, up from 33,858,022 as recently as 2006.
An average increase of 50 percent of mobile telephone subscribers
per year from 2001 to 2006 reflects the rapid growth of mobile
telephone usage in Nigeria.

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CELL PHONE USAGE LAWS

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3. The FRSC sought legislation making the use of cell phones while
driving an offence punishable under federal law in 2007. Part II,
Section 10, Sub-Section 4(ff) of the Federal Road Safety Commission
Act of 2007 known as Federal Road Safety Commission (Establishment)
Act, 2007 is the section of federal law that makes the use of a
cell phone while driving illegal in Nigeria. The National Road
Traffic Regulations 2004 Section 80 (7) and the Nigerian Highway
Code (2 Edition, 2008) reinforce this federal law.

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ACCIDENTS, INJURIES, AND FATALITIES

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4. Observed statistical trends indicate that while the overall
number of accidents are decreasing, distracted driving-related
accidents as well as the number of people injured as a result are
increasing. Total number of annual accidents, both related and
unrelated to distracted driving, declined by four percent, from
11,341 in 2008 to 10,854 in 2009. However, the portion of
accidents which occurred as a result of distracted driving
increased by 12 percent, from 680 in 2008 to 760 in 2009. Data
from the FRSC also illustrates a 71 percent spike in the number of
people injured in accidents involving distracted drivers, from

ABUJA 00000322 002 OF 002


1,119 in 2008 to 1,909 in 2009. However, fatalities resulting from
accidents involving distracted drivers declined by 14 percent, from
333 in 2008 to 285 in 2009. (See attached Distracted Driving
Related Accidents graph.)

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NATIONAL AWARENESS AND EDUCATION CAMPAIGNS

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5. The FRSC reported that it is reaching the general public by
pursuing public awareness, education campaigns, and disseminating
information through print and electronic media. The FRSC, in
conjunction with National Youth Service Corps, has mounted a
nationwide public awareness and education campaign on the dangers
associated with the use of mobile phones while driving. The FRSC
and National Youth Service Corps members already deployed to
primary and secondary schools focus a portion of their address to
students on the public health implications of driving while
distracted. Children are encouraged to remind adult drivers of the
law that prohibits the use of cell phones while driving. These
public health messages are also being shared at motor parks through
organized seminars and workshops for stakeholders. The FRSC
utilizes electronic and print media, handbills, and posters to
educate the general public.

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EFFECTIVENESS OF LAWS, LAW ENFORCEMENT, OR OTHER EDUCATIONAL
EFFORTS

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6. The FRSC has in the past three years carried out enforcement to
ensure compliance on non-usage of mobile phones while driving. A
total of 3,651 arrests were made in 2007 for offences related to
use of mobile phones while driving. The number of arrests
increased by 23 percent in 2008 to 4,769, but decreased by 13
percent to 4,204 in 2009 due to enforcement. (See attached
Distracted Driving Arrests graph.)

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COMMENT

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7. Embassy was pleased to learn of the FRSC's interest and
commitment to the tracking, enforcement, and sensitization of the
general public to the dangers of distracted driving. The FRSC has
already reached out to the U.S. Office of Security Operations in
Abuja to benefit from the National Guard State Partnership Program
(SPP), through which four FRSC officers are today receiving highway
patrol training in Sacramento and Oakland, California. Embassy is
working to find a way to send Nigerian prosecutors to the U.S. to
receive formal training in developing legal cases against
distracted drivers. Corps Marshal Osita Chidoka told Embassy
during an earlier meeting (reftel B) that the FRSC's biggest need
in this area was to find a way to convict drivers who denied that
they were using cell phones at the time they were charged for this
offense. END COMMENT.
SANDERS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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