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This study was carried out to assess emergency communication in road traffic accident among commercial drivers in Zaria with a view to ascertaining the preference given to communication in road traffic accident in the study area. In this regard, the study aimed at finding out the level of awareness of Federal Road Safety Corps‟ (FRSC) emergency communication channels among commercial drivers as well as assessing the functionality of the said emergency channels. It also sought to find out the processes that emergency communication goes through before rescue can take place. The study adopted the media richness theory as well as a contextualization of Harold Lasswell‟s model of communication within the confines of emergency communication. The media richness theory holds that communication channels vary in their capacity to enable users exchange meaning. Therefore communication channels should match the tasks they are used for. Data for the study was collected via a mixed method. First was an in depth interview with the head of operations FRSC, Zaria unit command. Second was a survey of commercial drivers as 400 questionnaires were issued to them using convenience sampling. The findings show that low preference was given to communication. There is a low knowledge of FRSC‟s emergency communication channels among the study population and that knowledge of the numbers does not determine usage of the numbers. It was also discovered that the numbers were functional and that emergency calls undergo at least three stages before a standby team embarks on a rescue. The study recommends that FRSC should take multiple approaches in publicizing their emergency channels and also that the processes that emergency communication undergoes should be shortened so as to make impact.
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Irrespective of where one lives, mobility is essential. The reasons for mobility can range from
social interactions to the exchange of goods and services. Therefore, whatever its purpose,
mobility is fundamental to human beings and it is this fundamentality that led man to search for
safer, more convenient and instantaneous modes of transportation. The era of traveling on foot
and the use of animals to pull carts and carriages gave way to the use of ships, automobiles and
airplanes for movement. Thus through the years there was a tremendous revolution in the mode
of transportation and such revolution is continuing.
One of the most utilized and most beneficial modes of transportation in many countries is road
transportation. In Nigeria, about 80% of freight movement takes place on the road (FRSC Digest
2011 in Ukoji 2014).Ofoegbu (2013) corroborates this by noting that about 85% of passenger
and freight movement in Nigeria is done on the roads. This makes road transportation an
important factor in social and economic development of the country. However, this means of
transportation is not without its attendant problems and it has led to certain consequences on the
countries that benefit from it.
Road Traffic Accident (RTA) is one of the problems associated with road transportation. Road
traffic accident is collision involving one or more vehicles or a moving vehicle and a stationary
vehicle/object or pedestrian resulting in deaths, personal injury or damage to vehicle or loss of
physical property (OECD/ITF, 2014). Road Traffic Accidents (RTA‟s) are increasingly
recognized as posing momentous problems worldwide as it constitutes a major public health
challenge and also creates social and economic problems for countries and societies (Pedan,
Scurfield, Sleet, Mohan, Hyder, Jarawanet al2004).
According to the World Health Organization (WHO, 2009) on a global scale, road traffic
accident is responsible for an estimated 1.3 million deaths yearly. In Nigeria, the reported
accident cases in 2013 were 13,583. The number of fatalities from the crashes was 6,450
(OECD/ITF, 2014). Low and middle income countries have higher RTA fatality rates (21.5 and
19.5 per 100,000 populations, respectively) than high income countries (10.3 per 100,000).The
deaths are onlya microcosm of what actually happens. The bigger part is that RTA injures and
disables approximately 50 and 20 million people and 80% of all deaths from injuries occur in
low and middle income countries (Commission for Global Road Safety, 2008). Again, from the
economic perspective, the consequence of crashes is estimated to be 1% and 3% of gross
national product of world‟s countries reaching a total of over $500 billion (WHO, 2011). In this
regard, a World Bank study has shown that the economic development of regions and nations is
associated with an increase in the number of injuries and deaths from road traffic crashes
(Koptis& Copper, 2005).
Substantial empirical evidences indicate that three quarters of RTA deaths are among men and
that the highest impact is in the economically active group (15- 44 years), thus hampering efforts
at sustainable development (WHO, 2013; CDC, 2004; Ediagbini et al 2011; Yamuragiye et al,
2013; Department of Transport, 2009). In this regard, WHO (2013) predicted that injuries from
road traffic accidents (RTA‟s) will be one of the leading causes of disability and mortality
among the most productive segment of the world‟s population by 2020. Similarly, by 2030
unless action is taken globally, RTA‟s will become the 5th leading cause of death surpassing
HIV/AIDS, malaria, hypertensive heart disease and lung cancers.
From the foregoing, a number of countries have come up with measures to tackle RTA‟s
especially in reducing the seriousness of injuries for victims and saving lives. Paramount among
these measures is an emergency response that is facilitated by communication. It has since been
established that individuals and societies cannot do without communication. Thus it can be said
that communication is fundamental to human beings as it undergirds communities and
organizations which consist of different individuals. Hence over time the modes of
communication have also been completely transformed. Therefore as the modes of transportation
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