Motorcycle crashes are the second most common cause of road traffic injuries in Nigeria, according to a recent study published on Research Gate. The researchers noted that despite this big threat to the safety of drivers and passengers, no study has analysed the peculiarities of motorcycle accidents, or how to prevent them. The researchers examined and interviewed almost 400 motorcycle patients in three hospitals in Southwest Nigeria, seeking to find out more about this apparent mystery. One of the primary contributing factors to high accident rates, noted scientists, is the type of motorcycle chosen.

Size and power matters

Researchers found that all motorcycles involved in the accidents they analysed were small, with capacities of between 80 and 125cm³. The findings are surprising considering that many people purchase small motorcycles to begin with, as a result of the false belief that small motorcycles are safer. Different motorcycle models have varying benefits, but one important edge that larger bikes have is their visibility. Larger motorcycles also have the power to accelerate quickly when required – for instance, when drivers wish to enter a main lane or respond quickly to an event up ahead – for instance, a driver who has suddenly hit the brakes.

Reckless driving

Of the accidents observed by scientists, some 22% occurred when either the motorcycle or another vehicle, were circulating against traffic. This indicates the extent to which greater awareness of (and commitment to) road safety needs to be intensified in Nigeria. Another reckless habit involves overloading. Some of the accidents occurred because motorcycles were carrying more than two people at a time. Other risky behaviours that contributed to injuries included a failure to wear protective headgear, and the failure to use headlights when travelling in the dark.

Road matters

Around 37.8% of accidents occurred at junctions without roundabouts – indicating the utility of utilising roundabouts at intersections with heavy circulation. This isn’t to say that the accident rates at roundabouts (5%) don’t need to be addressed as well. However, structures such as traffic lights and roundabouts go a long way towards establishing right of way – which can help novice drivers and motorbike riders work out when to go or give way.

Motorcyclists are certainly not the only ones to blame for high accident rates in Nigeria. Road design flaws, busy roads, and fault by drivers of other vehicles also need to be taken into account. New technologies such as LiDAR sensors (which can be placed in busy intersections to analyse accidents and near-crashes) should also be considered. These, combined with sensors placed in cars and on motorcycles themselves, can help warn drivers of potential hazards and reduce their chances of personal injury.

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