Road transport safety in Abuja, Nigeria: an analysis using a traffic conflict technique

Uhegbu, Uchenna Nnabuihe ORCID: 0000-0002-4661-1718 (2021). Road transport safety in Abuja, Nigeria: an analysis using a traffic conflict technique. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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An estimated 1.35 million lives are lost to Road Traffic Crashes (RTC) annually, with about 20 – 50 million people sustaining non – fatal injuries, of which many are left with temporary or permanent disabilities. Developing countries like Nigeria, account for 85% of these global road fatalities, and 90% of Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALY), despite having only about 54% of available world vehicles. With a steady increase in the number of vehicles on Nigerian roads, over dependence on road transport for the movement of 90% of freight and passengers, which is primarily due to the near absence and neglect of other transportation modes in Nigeria, road safety is therefore of great concern, and deserves more attention than it currently gets. To date, the reliance on historical crash data in the analysis of traffic safety problems has been criticised due to the ethical issues associated with waiting for crashes to occur in order to collect sufficient crash data, as well as low quality or a complete unavailability of crash data in developing countries. To this end, the use of surrogate safety indicators as alternatives or complements of crash – based safety evaluations is therefore very necessary. There has not been a comprehensive non – crash based, but safety – related evaluation of unsafe traffic interactions and traffic conflicts with the potential of resulting in a traffic crash in Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja. The advancement of Traffic Conflict Techniques (TCT) motivated the utilisation of the Dutch Objective Conflict Technique for Operation and Research (DOCTOR) to investigate the safety issues in Abuja, Nigeria, and the results from this research would be beneficial, as it aims to understand the underlying unsafe behaviours and interactions of road users, contributing to high RTC and road fatalities in Abuja. To achieve this, relevant literature on non – crash based Traffic Safety Evaluation (TSE) and its replicability in developing countries were reviewed to inform the choice of methodology adopted for the study. TCT works best when complemented with crash analysis as well as behavioural studies, the methodology therefore consists of three major components: the trend analysis of Nigeria’s available crash data (1990 – 2016) provided by the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC). It provided an understanding of the road safety condition in Nigeria, and the progresses made towards achieving the goals of the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011 – 2020, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Goal 3, target 6, which is a 50% reduction in crash fatalities by the end of 2020. Based on the trend analysis, questionnaires were designed and administered to road users in Abuja Nigeria, as well as interviews with representatives of the FRSC and the Federal Ministry of Transportation. This helped seek the opinion of road users on the causes of relatively high levels of Road Traffic Crashes in Abuja. Abuja, despite having a majority of educated residents, the best road network and available paved roads in Nigeria, consistently has one of the worst annual crash statistics in Nigeria. Traffic conflicts observations were therefore conducted in Abuja, to observe traffic behaviours and conflicts using a Traffic Conflict Technique (TCT). This research observed and identified various traffic conflicts at 6 study locations in Abuja, using the Dutch Objective Conflict Technique for Operation and Research (DOCTOR) technique. The results from the crash analysis (trend analysis) shows that Nigeria is far off from achieving the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011 – 2020, and the SDG Goal 3, target 6, by the end of 2020. With respect to the goal of the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011 – 2020, an effective 50% reduction in the year 2011 estimates of crash fatalities (6,054 fatalities) in Nigeria, implies that by the end of 2020, crash fatalities are expected to drop to below 3,027 crash fatalities. However, the FRSC reports a 16.5% decline in road fatalities from 2011 – 2016 (a drop from 6,054 to 5,053 road fatalities, although increases were experienced in 2012, and 2013), which is still 33.5% off the 50% target by the end of 2020. The research also identified behavioural risk factors in Abuja, including; poor use of seatbelts, drink driving, and use of mobile phones while driving. Unsafe driving behaviours identified also include; not using indicators, driving without a seatbelt, and tailgating. From the interviews, over speeding, driving against the flow of traffic and lack of pedestrian bridges at junctions as well as pedestrians crossing at undesignated areas were identified as the major causes of RTC in Abuja. From the study sites, the observed conflicts were mainly same direction (right turn, slow vehicle, and lane change), cross traffic (through, left turn and right turn), and pedestrian conflicts. Based on the severity of the conflicts, slight conflicts (conflicts of severity 1 and 2), were predominant at all locations. The most severe conflicts (conflicts with severity score of 5 which is regarded as a near miss and could have potentially resulted in a crash) range from 7.0% of the total number of observed conflicts at Bolingo Junction to a maximum 8.3% of the total number of observed conflicts at Julius Berger roundabout. This research proposed crash reduction methods including; strict enforcement of traffic laws, road safety enlightenment, improved road design, effective traffic management and road safety education. The application of DOCTOR in Abuja, Nigeria, is novel. The traffic conflict observations done in this research were done manually and not via video recordings, however, this research provides road safety investigators the foundation and opportunity to utilise surrogate safety evaluations using video recordings for future applications, so as to complement traffic safety evaluations in cases where crash based approaches seem unreliable.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Engineering & Physical Sciences
School or Department: School of Engineering, Department of Civil Engineering
Funders: Other
Other Funders: Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) Nigeria, School of Engineering, University of Birmingham
Subjects: T Technology > TA Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General)
T Technology > TE Highway engineering. Roads and pavements


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