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Bring aviation safety culture to road transportation

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Added 2nd May 2016 11:44 AM

In aviation, an aircraft that is reported to be in a bad serviceability shape will not be permitted to get airborne

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By Simon Mone

Increasing road accidents make fatal statistics more worrying than they should be. And always prompts a reactionary approach by our traffic officers  ̶  with blame games thrown about. They then try to be vigilant short-term. But maintaining such reactive approaches won’t be useful.

Rather, we ought to be predictive and proactive. Accidents shouldn’t occur. Our roads must be safe.

It leads up to this safety talking point. The standard is safe transportation. For instance, while crossing river Nile at Laropii, a good safety culture must have ferries equipped with safety jackets for people aboard. It is this like of readiness that defines capability to withstand transportation emergencies.

Therefore, in many ways, our safety inconsistency should also take some blame for rampant accidents that kills scores of people. Safety is the thing here. And one question requires answers. Why the disparities in air transport and other modes? Here is an attempt at answering why aviation has led the way in transportation safety.

Aviation is a highly regulated industry and upholds very high safety standards. Any event-incident or accident is taken very seriously. Investigating an incident is handled thoroughly and conclusively and in a way that leaves no room for a repeat  ̶  getting to its bottom. So that its causes, whether latent or not, are singled out and made a learning to prevent future recurrence.

For example, if say one cause is to do with no training of personnel, this is addressed with urgency. If it is about failure to follow procedures, missing procedures are developed.

Clearly, a solution is developed and implemented for all causes. Conversely, other transport modes still show laxity. Regulations are never regarded. That is why today a bus driver can crash against a trailer, kills all passengers. His licence is withdrawn for only a couple of days, after which it is returned for him to resume business without any remedy.

‘Boda-boda riders are required to wear helmets, and so are passengers. But why is it not the case? And ‘boda-boda’ riders profess their dislike of putting on helmets  ̶  this has become a standard. Just like helmets, the seat belt policy and others came and went.

In aviation, it is not possible to get away with a breach of regulations. Regulations are not optional. Aviation also encourages the just culture concept.

A voluntary method of reporting disobedience of a regulation and allows for solutions in form of assistance so that such misdemeanours are eliminated. That perhaps explains why air transport still remains the safest. Maybe a just culture asks for too much from road transport. But strict implementation of safety measures should still prevail.

This eliminates needless accidents on our roads. So that when a driver is drunk, something is done. He should report being unable to drive back home, so he can get assistance. Traffic fellows can drive him home. These are useful steps that will greatly improve road transport system.

In aviation, an aircraft that is reported to be in a bad serviceability shape will not be permitted to get airborne. But in road transport, our traffic volume is composed of more bad-mechanical condition vehicles than good condition ones. And we persist.

Only a good safety culture implemented on our roads can help to deliver us from carnage. We can succeed by beginning to change our minds to think more about safety.

Often times, accidents happen because our driving decisions are wrong, due to an error of judgement, or a missed road sign. Drivers must be sober, not under influence of any substance. They should be forced to obey traffic regulations. We need safe drivers in safe vehicles and on safe roads.

The writer is a civil engineer

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