PSYCHOSOCIAL FACTORS INFLUENCING COMMERCIAL DRIVERS’ RECKLESSNESS
1.1 Background to the Study
Driving a car, bus, lorry or an articulated-vehicle is a psychomotor activity that requires a combination of concentration and good visual and auditory functions. Several forces that can negatively affect driving mostly fall within the purview of psycho-social factors (Kagashe and Seleman, 2009). Some of these psychosocial factors are the use of alcohol and drug. Others include driver’s personality, the environment, where they grew up, family trauma among others. Ability to drive successfully from one point to another is an important component of road safety. However, in most part of the world especially in developing countries, few though significant number of drivers do not get to their destinations successfully. This occurs as a result of drivers’ recklessness along the way. Most crashes could have been prevented by small differences in driver behavior but saved for drivers’ recklessness (Redelmeier et al, 2003).
According to O’Brien (2011), the main theoretical perspectives was the frustration-aggression model which identifies both the person related and situational characteristics that contribute to aggressive driving as well as proposing that aggressive behaviors can serve either an instrumental or hostile function. Hostile aggressive drivers were also significantly more likely to engage in speeding, drink/drunk driving behavior. A driver will adopt an instrumental aggressive behavior when there progress is impeded if it allows them to achieve their immediate goals (E.g reaching their destination as quickly as possible). Recent studies have considered various psycho-social factors that contribute to reckless driving such as individual characteristics of a driver, driving violation, alcohol, drug use, fatigue, disability, self-esteem, mental health, parenting styles& family background, perception of risk (Javadi, et al 2015).
Studies suggest that those who drive commercial vehicles for a living are more likely to be involved in a vehicular accident than private motorists, even when mileage is taken into account (Chapman, Roberts &Underwood, 2000; Broughton et al, 2003). Indeed, accidents involving those employed who drive for a living account for a large proportion of the total number of work-related deaths in the world. For example, in Australia, almost half of all motor vehicle accidents involve commercial drivers (Mitchell, Driscoll & Healey, 2004; Boufous & Williamson, 2006).Moreover, in Greece, 25 percent of all accidents involve heavy trucks (Tzamalouka, Papadakaki & Chliaoutakis, 2005). In Sweden, commercial drivers account for the greatest number of those injured or killed on the job relative to their representation in the work force, with driver deaths accounting for about 10 percent of all work-related fatalities in that country (Bylund, Björnstig & Larsson, 1997).
The disproportionate involvement of commercial drivers in moderate to severe motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) suggests the need to better understand what it is about commercial driving that may account for such a high accident rate. Given that commercial driving involves heavier vehicles demanding quicker response times, research into the factors increasing commercial drivers’ vulnerability have focused on psychosocial factors, and in particular, on those drivers’ reckless behaviors that may adversely affect driver awareness, mindfulness and/or response times such as driver exhaustion and alcohol misuse.
Drug abuse and alcohol has become such a problem of great concern to all well meaning Nigerian and particularly the Federal Government to the extent that the Nigerian National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) was established to combat the social disease with a view to reducing the spread of drug abuse to the barest minimum but the impact of the Agency is yet to be felt as drug abuse among commercial drivers in Lagos State continue to be a prime cause of commercial drivers recklessness. Reckless and distracted driver are quietly causing a staggering amount of serious car accidents. In fact, driver distractions are the leading causes of most auto accidents. Driver distraction is the diversion of attention away from activities critical for safe driving toward a competing activity (Regan, Lee and Young, 2009). Distraction has been identified as an emerging road safety issue in Towards Zero Western Australian’s road safety for 2008-2020 (Road Safety Council, 2009). It is also being increasingly ranked by road safety authorities around the world as significant contributing factors to road traffic accidents (Regan, Lee and Young, 2009).
The Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) has said over 80% of road traffic accidents involving commercial drivers on Nigeria roads are usually caused by what it described as “Psychosocial Factors”. Recklessness, avoidable aggression and road rage which manifest in excessive speeding, overloading, sleepiness, dangerous overtaking, and lack of consideration for other road users were identified by the commission as human factors responsible for the high rate of road traffic crash on the nations roads (FRSC, 2008). Lagos state sector commander of the FRSC also mentioned that among the psychosocial factors were recklessness, drunkenness, poor quality drivers, indiscriminate parking, over speeding by commercial drivers, bad attitude and culture of driving as well as the attitude of policemen and other uniform men that left their duty of controlling traffic for the money they would get in their pockets, mobile phone use while driving, old age, fatigue, poor eyesight, adding that if precautionary measures were not put in place more deaths could still be recorded on our roads (Daniel, 2010).
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Majority of the commercial drivers ignorantly depend on one form of drug or the other for their various daily activities. such drug include tobacco, Indian hemp, cocaine, morphine, Heroine, Alcohol, Epherdrine, Madras, caffeine, Glue, Barbiturates, Amphetamines etc (Daniel, 2010). The costs of fatalities, injuries and death due to road traffic accidents have a tremendous impact on societal well-being and socio economic development. Road traffic accidents are among the leading causes of death and injury world-wide, causing an estimated 1.2 million deaths and 50 million injuries each year (WHO, 2007). In Ojo Local Government Area of Lagos State, for instance, road traffic accidents are common among commercial drivers due to psycho social factors such as family background, environment, family trauma, get rich quick, phone use, passenger distraction among others.
Preliminary research has shown that most of the commercial drivers operating in Lagos State take alcohol in the morning which would make them drive under influence, and give them extra energy, motivation, and fearlessness to speed limit, and this inevitably put the lives of the passengers at risk of possible elimination, working parents are killed or injured, many women have turned to premature widows, parents lost their wards in road traffic accident as a result of reckless driving and indiscriminate parking at the blind spot leaving children who relied solely on these deceased persons for sustenance. Despite these challenges, the psycho-social factors predicting commercial drivers’ recklessness in Lagos State have not been studied empirically and thus the character and magnitude of the traffic problem in the area remain unknown. It is against this backdrop that this research seeks to investigate psychosocial factors predicting commercial drivers’ recklessness with a special reference to Ojo LGA of Lagos State.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The general objective of this study is to explore the effect of psycho-social factors on commercial drivers’ recklessness. Other specific objectives of this study are to:
a. To examine the influence of drug use on commercial drivers’ safety in Lagos State.
b. To assess the relationship between drunkenness and commercial drivers’ recklessness.
c. To investigate the link between over-speeding and road traffic accidents.
d. To find out the influence of use of seat-belt on commercial drivers’ safety in Lagos State.
1.4 Research Questions
The undertaking of this research project will beam a searchlight on the following research questions;
1. What is the influence of drug use on commercial drivers’ safety in Lagos State?
2. Is there any relationship between drunkenness and commercial drivers’ recklessness?
3. To what extent is over-speeding related to road traffic accidents?
4. Will the use of seat-belt have any influence on commercial drivers’ safety in Lagos State?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The researcher intends to test the following hypotheses:
1. There would be significant relationship between drug use and commercial drivers’ safety in Lagos State.
2. There would be relationship between drunkenness and commercial drivers’ recklessness
3. There would be significant relationship between over-speeding and road traffic accidents.
The use of seat-belt has no influence on commercial drivers’ safety in Lagos State.