Operation Cobra: Traffic offenders to pay for psychological test
Compliance Level Encouraging-FRSC
Over two month since the psychological evaluation test introduced by the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), to caution motorists on life-threatening traffic offences took-off across the country, the commission says the level of compliance among defaulters remains high.
Code-named Operation Cobra, the exercise, a new road safety enforcement policy of the FRSC, is designed to subject violators of certain traffic offences to mental stability evaluation, in other words, the policy is meant to subject life-threatening traffic law offenders to psychological test.
It formally kicked-off in Abuja on June 30, 2017, and on July 11, 2017, a signal from the commission’s Headquarters directed states and field commands to refer defaulters for the evaluation. This effectively marked the nationwide kick-off of the test.
However, contrary to popular views that the test is limited to commercial vehicle operators, Head of Media Education of FRSC, Bisi Kazeem told The Guardian in Abuja that the contrary was the position.
Kazeem, who explained that the test was not a psychiatric test as touted by many; rather a psychological evaluation of erring private and commercial drivers, added that it is aimed at ascertaining their emotional stability for breaching certain traffic rules, which include traffic light violations; use of phone while driving; route violation; overloading; and dangerous driving.
He disclosed that about one month after the commencement of the exercise, 218 defaulters had been referred for the test, while 87 offenders had undergone the evaluation, and all returned negative.
“The vehicles of others who are yet to get their evaluations are still under confiscation,” Kazeem said adding that only public institutions with requisite facilities are engaged for the evaluation of defaulters.”
Kazeem noted that when a traffic offender fails the psychological test, it is the hospital that takes it further, and the nature of treatment administered (either counseling or medications) depends on the defaulter’s psychological issues.
For would-be offenders that are of the view that the commission would foot the bills for their tests, Kazeem has a word for them. “Whoever is caught committing traffic offences will bear the cost of the evaluation.”
The FRSC Corps Marshal, Boboye Oyeyemi, at a one-day national workshop, which the commission recently organised for driving school operators, said the psychological evaluation test was in response to rising incidents of the identified offences, adding that investigating the mental stability of violators would help to check the trend.
When media reports in the wake of the policy announcement described the test at psychiatric test, some stakeholders, especially psychiatrists, denounced the policy as reckless and embarrassing.
Oyeyemi, who used the forum to clear the air, insisted that the FRSC was not embarking on psychiatric tests; neither did it intend to do so in the near future.
He nevertheless maintained that the agency could not shy away from its responsibility of checking the lawlessness of road users, which had attained worrying heights.
Before Oyeyemi cleared the air, the Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria (APN), had flayed the directive, and directed its members in all hospitals across the country not to carry out any assessment on “fellow Nigerians.”
According to a statement signed by its President, Prof. Joseph Adeyemi, and Secretary-General, Dr. Bassey Edet, they claimed that the directive, apart from trivialising mental and behavioral disorders, will further worsen the stigma “our patients are enduring.
“The Executive Committee of the Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria is therefore left with no alternative, but to ask members in all hospitals within the length and breadth of Nigeria not to carry out any assessment on fellow Nigerians because of traffic offences.