New Telegraph

Checkmating sensitive devices on private vehicles

The ongoing indiscriminate use of sensitive devices on private vehicles on the various Nigerian roads has called for an alarm.

Every sane Nigeria is unequivocally not unaware that most sensitive vehicular gadgets are being used indiscriminately by some Nigerians, thereby abusing the main reason for their invention.
The continued unauthorized use of emergency-vehicle devices like siren among other sensitive vehicular gadgets, including tinted glass and customized number plate, has been on the increase in the contemporary Nigerian society that it forbids the use of a partisan measure toward its holistic eradication.

Illicit indiscriminate use of the aforementioned devices by unauthorized motorists is, to say the least, mainly responsible for most traffic embarrassments and anomalies experienced in recent times on our major roads, that if severe and rigorous approach isn’t taken towards addressing it, one may wake one morning to hear that such traffic authorities in the country as the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), among others, have been overtaken by a group of ‘bloody’ civilians.

Siren, which is a popularly used emergency device in most countries across the globe, could be described as an instrument fitted to or carried by an emergency-vehicle other than the devices that a standard non-emergency vehicle is fitted with such as headlights, steering wheels, windshield, and windscreens. It is generally an acoustic device that concurrently exhibits coloured lights in the process.

Siren was invented solely to be used by emergency vehicles to include the fire truck, ambulance, and the police car, because they are usually involved in hazardous situations including relatively not uncommon incidents like a road traffic collision. This set of vehicles is required to gain access to incidents as quickly as possible, thus in many countries likewise Nigeria, it’s given a preference as regards obeying certain traffic rules.

For instance, suchlike vehicles may, or possess the immunity to, treat a red traffic light or stop sign as a give way, or be permitted to break the speed limit, as the case may be. Notwithstanding, emergency vehicles may not be able to equally treat a railroad crossing as a give way because a train cannot be warned in time to stop before the crossing to let the vehicle through; hence, an emergency vehicle might not enjoy its usual privileges when heavy land freight or passenger trains are involved.

Thus, owing to the inevitable role of emergency vehicles in several countries including Nigeria, they are fitted with visual warnings to alert members of the public, particularly other motorists and road users, either as they approach the said vehicle or vice-versa. Visual warnings are generally classified into passive and active.

The passive visual warnings are usually inherently linked to the design of the vehicle, and involve the use of high contrast patterns such as striking or unusual paintings, retro-reflective designs, flamboyant stickers, and what have you, directly on the vehicle.

Another method is the inscription of the name or purpose of the emergency service organization such as Fire Service, Ambulance, Red Cross et al, boldly on the front of the vehicle. This enables drivers of other vehicles to easily identify an approaching emergency vehicle via their rear view mirrors.

On the other hand, active visual warnings are usually in the form of flashing coloured lights known as beacons or light-bars which are often accompanied by variety of sounds. The flashing coupled with sound attracts the attention of other road users including pedestrians as the emergency vehicle approaches; it equally provides warning to motorists approaching a stopped vehicle in a dangerous position on the road.

On its part, tinted glass, which refers to any glass that has been specially treated with a material such as a film or coating that reduces the transmission of light ray through it, is purposely meant to block and/or reflect different kinds of light based on the needs as well as preferences of the consumers.

One of the most common ways in which tinted glass is used is in automobile windows. Almost all vehicles come with tinting at the top of the windshield to reduce solar glare when the sun is low in the sky.

Aside this, the windows of many vehicles, particularly cars, are tinted either at the factory or as an aftermarket add-on by the consumer, to provide privacy for the vehicle’s occupants as well as to reduce the build-up of heat in the vehicle while it is parked outside.

As regards the functions of a vehicular tinted glass, apart from regulation of light or heat, the most rampant reason a tinted glass is used especially in a society like ours is provision of privacy for the vehicle’s occupants.

Nevertheless, it’s paramount to acknowledge that, contrary to the wholesome attributes of tinted glasses, they prevent timely identification of the actual look of the vehicle’s driver alongside other occupants of the car, thereby creating room for various fraudulent or dubious acts.

This is why the Nigeria’s Federal Road Safety Acts regulate the degree to which vehicle windows can be tinted, especially the front windows. These limits are in place in order to enable the Police and other security agents to identify the driver and passengers of the vehicle in question, as well as to allow motorists to see through the windows of other vehicles in order to spot hazards that otherwise could not be noticed. Similar regulation or restriction is also accorded to the use of siren.

Furthermore, customized or personalized number plate, which creates a unique identity of any vehicle it is applied on, is another sensitive gadget indiscriminately used by automobile owners in Nigeria. In essence, a customized registration number plate, which is really much easier to memorize, conceals the age of the automobile contrary to a general number plate that discloses the age of the vehicle that bears it.

Summarily, a personalized number plate, which its use is equally controlled by the FRSC, is widely used for three main purposes, namely: creation of uniqueness, easy memorization as well as for concealment of the automobile age, as the case may be.

However, in some quarters like the entertainment industry, most individuals use it to showcase to their fans or the public in general how influential they are, thereby ridiculing the prime essence of the device. Owing to this lingering abuse, the apt authorities had in various times banned or warned decisively on the continued use of these sensitive gadgets by unauthorized Nigerians.

It’s appalling to observe that despite the incessant severe warnings, most Nigerians such as the politicos and what have you, still violate the law on a daily basis with impunity, thereby disabusing the public of the popular notion that ‘no one is greater than the law’. It’s more worrisome to realize that these persons received an unofficial or illegal authorization to make use of the devices from the top personnel or employees of the concerned law enforcement agencies such as the FRSC.

Such preferential treatment invariably received by influential Nigerians from the above mentioned saboteurs in the name of ‘immunity’ really calls for a public outcry as well as a more stiff measure towards its eradication.

Against this backdrop, any member of the FRSC alongside other relevant bodies caught in the act of sabotage or any form of criminality ought to be outrightly dismissed and thereafter be duly prosecuted no matter whose ox is gored. In the same spirit, any unauthorized citizen – regardless of their status – found wanting, is also meant to face the wrath of the law.

Inter alia, there’s a compelling need to review most of the laws or Acts biding the use of sensitive vehicular devices to include siren, tinted glass and customized number plate, with a view to making amends where necessary.

The review, as mentioned above, needs to be done headlong without further ado considering the societal implications of the aforesaid uncalled lifestyle unabated displayed by various Nigerians who think they are beyond the law of the land that is invariably reckoned to be a respecter of nobody.

More so, the various military cum paramilitary organizations in the country ought to be extremely careful whenever they are recruiting new members into their respective fraternities with a view to ensuring no person of any questionable character benefits from the exercise as long as it lasts. They must be conscious of the fact that the membership of such bodies isn’t meant for everybody or all Nigerians.
Arguably, the ongoing alarming pace of sabotage witnessed in several quarters in Nigeria is mainly attributable to harbouring of frauds, albeit ignorantly, by various sensitive societies or corporate bodies across the country.
The governments at all levels are, therefore, expected to act very fast towards ending this alarming rate of heresy that has eaten deep into our collective bone marrow. Think about it!

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