Thursday, April 17, 2014

Lagos tanker drivers unaware of alcohol limit, study shows

Published:

Bus Park

About 70 per cent of tanker drivers in Lagos and Abuja do not know the legal limit for drink driving.

Seven out of ten tanker drivers in Lagos do not know the legal limit for driving and drinking, a new study has shown.

The study, released by the Global Actions on Harmful Drinking department of the International Centre for Alcohol Policies, also revealed that nine out of ten inter-city bus drivers in Abuja, who consume alcohol, say there is little or no chance of being caught by government officials.

The baseline surveys, conducted in June on the drunk driving status of petroleum tanker and inter-city commercial bus drivers in Lagos and Abuja, had inputs from an Asaba-based non-governmental organization, Prompt Assistance to Victims of Road Traffic
Accidents; and the GeoTrans study group of the University of Lagos.

The survey was conducted in partnership with the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, sector commands in the two cities.

“We see this as an opportunity to continue to advocate for continuous enforcement of existing drunk driving laws by all relevant  agencies,” Lanre Onigbogi, Country Manager of Global Actions Nigeria said.

 

Drunk tanker drivers

A total of 630 questionnaires were administered to tanker drivers in 33 oil depots within the Apapa area, out of which 570 responded.

In addition to the questionnaires, the researchers also employed face-to-face interviews and breath tests. The resulting data was analysed by use of simple descriptive statistical tools in the form of percentages, charts, and tables.

On Blood Alcohol Consumption (BAC), the analysis showed that 76 petroleum tanker drivers (13%) had BAC levels above 0.05 per cent which is the legal limit in Nigeria.

Over 450 tanker drivers (75% of the respondents) said they have no knowledge of the legal limit for drinking and driving; while 1.2% declared they know it to be 0.00mg/100mg.

The survey showed that the highest level of alcohol consumption, for the surveyed period, was by respondents within the age of 35 and 44; and the most common type of alcoholic beverage taken amongst them is beer.

Also, while 436 of the 570 drivers had a BAC reading of 0.00mg, 69 drivers had a BAC of 0.10mg and above.

BAC readings between 0.001 – 0.049mg and 0.005 – 0.099 were recorded for 58 and 7 drivers respectively.

The risk of a vehicle crash increases as BAC increases, the researchers noted, and the more demanding the driving task, the greater the
impairment caused by low doses of alcohol.

“The driver’s ability to divide attention between two or more sources of visual information can be impaired by BAC’s of between 0.00 and 0.02 percent,” the study stated.

“Therefore it is important for the drivers and all the agencies in charge of safety on the road to create awareness that it is not necessarily until a BAC’s reading of 0.05 percent or more is reached that impairment occurs,” it added.

Also, more than half of the 213 drivers who indicated their reasons for consuming alcohol said that it was for relaxation. One driver said that he was addicted.

The study also showed that the higher the tanker drivers’ income level, the more difficult it is to stay off alcohol.

“Consistency in eye movements, glare resistance, visual perception, reaction time, certain types of steering tasks, information processing, and other aspects of psychomotor performance could be affected by the smallest presence of alcohol in the blood,” the report stated.

IGNORANT DRIVERS ON ABUJA HIGHWAY

For the inter-city drivers’ survey, 630 vehicles plying the Lokoja – Abaji – Abuja highway were examined.

The survey involved randomly selecting and stopping commercial bus drivers from the traffic stream at both sides of the road at two locations on the highway.

A total of 604 drivers – 300 members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, and 304 independent operators – agreed to provide their breath samples.

The study revealed that less than 2% of the drivers admitted to driving under the influence.

Gin, whiskey and beer accounted for 71% of preferred alcohol by drivers who consume alcohol while not driving.

Almost all the drivers do not know the legal alcohol limit for driving and none agreed to have been stopped or indicted by the FRSC on issues of alcohol misuse.

The study also showed that drivers whose journeys originated from the southern part of the country are twice more likely to use alcohol compared to their counterparts coming from the north.

BAC levels and prevalence of impaired driving were higher for NURTW registered bus drivers than independent operators.

The research noted that the high level of driver involvement in drink driving is a cause for concern.

“FRSC can best enforce drink drive laws by working closely with transport unions like the NURTW and NUPENG that we also had to work with in this project,” said Mr. Onigbogi. “These unions are powerful and can be used for advocacy and education to
prevent drink driving.”

Mr. Onigbogi blamed the problem of drink driving on ignorance.

“Many people think that if they are not drunk to a state of stupor, they can still drive. Research has shown that this is not the case,” he said.

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