Sunday, 25 August 2019

SPEED LIMITING DEVICES AND THE FEDERAL ROAD SAFETY COMMISSION

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The Federal Road Safety Commission has issued a directive requiring all vehicle owners to install speed limiting devices in their vehicles. The implementation of the directive is in phases, starting with commercial vehicles. Commercial vehicle owners have been mandated to install speed limiting devices in their vehicles, private vehicle owners are also required to do same, however, there are no sanctions imposed on erring private vehicle owners yet.

In the meantime, the directive is being enforced against commercial vehicles that are not fitted with the Speed Limiting device (SLD); this is because as has been earlier stated, the directive is being enforced in phases, starting with commercial vehicles.
The rationale behind enforcing the directive against commercial vehicles first is based on the consideration that commercial vehicles carry more people and in the unfortunate event of an accident, more lives would be lost. Since it would be very challenging to implement the directive against all vehicles in Nigeria at the same time, it is only logical that enforcement be in phases.

The Federal Road Safety Commission began the enforcement of the directive against commercial vehicles on the 1st of February 2017.
Speed limiting Devices are devices installed or fitted in a vehicle which keeps the vehicle from exceeding the stipulated speed limit.
Since the coming into force and implementation of this directive, Nigerians have been plagued with many questions such as; does the FRSC have authority to issue such a directive? What are the sanctions for non-compliance? What type of vehicles does the directive apply to? These and other ancillary questions will be addressed by this article.

 The Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) is a statutory body which was established under the Federal Road Safety Commission Act.
The purpose for the establishment of the FRSC is stated in the Law establishing it. The Law declares that the purpose of establishing the FRSC is for the purpose of charging it with the responsibility for preventing and minimising accidents on the highways and clearing obstructions on any part of the highways and for the purpose of educating drivers, motorists and other members of the public of the public generally on the proper use of highways and for related matters.

In order to ensure that the Federal Road Safety Commission achieves the purpose for its establishment under the law, its enabling Act which is the FRSC Act also established for the Commission (FRSC) a body known as the Federal Road Safety Corps. The Federal Road safety Corps is therefore a body under the Federal Road Safety Commission.

The Federal Road Safety Corps is charged with discharging functions relating generally to making the highways safe for motorists and other road users. In addition to this and several other functions it is charged with, the Federal Road Safety Corps is also charged with ‘recommending works and devices designed to eliminate or minimise accidents on the highways and advising the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing on the localities where such works and devices are required’.[1] It also charged with the following other functions:
preventing or minimising accidents on the highways
conducting researches into causes of motor accidents and methods of preventing them and putting into use the result of such researches;
determining and enforcing speed limits for all categories of roads and vehicles;
co-operating with bodies or agencies or groups engaged in road safety activities or in the prevention of accidents on the highways;
 making regulations in pursuance of any of the functions assigned to the Corps by or under this Act.[2]IS IT MANDATORY TO INSTALL SPEED LIMITING DEVICES?

The directive that all vehicles should be fitted with speed limiting devices is contained in the National Road Traffic Regulations 2012. This is a regulation made by the Federal Road Safety Commission pursuant to the powers conferred on it to do so under the FRSC Act.
The Regulation prohibits a person from driving any vehicle above the prescribed speed limit on any public road. The Regulation also provides that no person shall drive a vehicle on any public road which is not fitted with a speed limiting device.[3]The punishment for driving a vehicle without a speed limiting device is a fine of N3,000.00 (three thousand Naira) or an imprisonment term of 3 (three) months, or the punishment could be both fine and imprisonment.
The speed limit has been stated in the High way code as follows:

The speed limiting devices are therefore expected to keep vehicles from exceeding the legally stipulated speed limit.
Expressway has been defined in the Regulation as any part of a public road not being a single carriage way declared to be an expressway by either the Federal or State Ministry of works.

The National Road Traffic Regulations 2012 has defined what commercial vehicles are. The Regulation defined commercial vehicles to include motorcycle for hire, a hackney, carriage, stage carriage, a prime mover, recovery vehicle, draw-back trailer or articulated vehicle, buses, pick-up vans, tricycles and any motor vehicle primarily designed for the carriage of goods and fare-paying passengers as well as vehicles for carrying people by companies and religious bodies.
It should be noted that the definition of commercial vehicles under the regulation is broad as it covers vehicles owned by religious bodies used for conveying its members, even if they pay no fare.

The Regulation also defines vehicle to mean any motorcar, buses, lorries, trucks, trailers, wagon, carriage, cart, bicycles, barrows, sledges or other conveyance(except a bay carriage or perambulator) which is used for the transportation of passengers, animals, goods or other loads.
The FRSC having been charged with the prevention and minimising of accidents on the road, has a duty as stipulated under the law to come up with ways in which this can be achieved. This it has done by setting the speed limits for different categories of vehicles and it has taken a step further to ensure that vehicle owners comply with the speed limit by directing that vehicles be fitted with speed limiting devices. This is well within its powers.

[1] Section 11(2)(a)(b) of the Federal Road Safety Commission Act.
[2] Section 11(3) of the Federal Road Safety Commission Act.
[3] See Regulation 152(4) & Regulation 119(6) of the National Road Traffic Rules 2012.

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