Following the death of Mr. James Ocholi alongside his wife and son, on Sunday in an auto crash along the Kaduna-Abuja expressway, an investigation by the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has blamed Taiwo Elegede, the driver of the late Minister for over speeding.
The road safety agency also said apart from the driver’s high speed, failure to use seat belts by the deceased minister and his family members decreased their chances of survival in the crash.
The investigation report was read on Wednesday by the Corps Marshal of FRSC, Boboye Oyeyemi, during a valedictory session of the Federal Executive Council in honour of the late Ocholi at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
“There were 10 persons involved in the accident and 9 were adults. The minister and his son died on the spot, while his wife died at the hospital. The driver of the crashed vehicle was moving at excess of the stipulated speed when he had a tyre burst.
According to Mr. Oyeyemi, further checks showed that the driver’s details were not registered on the FRSC data base as a licensed driver.
“There was no record on the driver’s licence national database of the driver of the Hon. Minister with the name Taiwo James Elegbede,” he said.
“The Dunlop tyres of the SUV were not expired but were wrongly fixed and could have affected its performance.
“The situation would have been salvaged if there had been a mode of communication between the minister’s car and the backup car, as the latter had noticed the state of the tyres and tried to stop them.
“The crashed vehicle’s driver was driving too fast and he slammed on his brake so hard. These two factors materially contributed to the inability of the driver to maintain control when the left rear tyre burst.
“Skid marks and grooves found on the westbound shoulder made by the Lexus LX570 for about 15m and 9.3m respectively before it began somersaulting severely and the ejection of the minister and his son showed clearly that the travelling speed of the Lexus LX570 presented unsafe consequences in the event of certain road risk that may have occurred.
“The driver must have entered into a panic situation which resulted to his hard application of brakes and subsequent loss of control that took him into the bush path.
“The DOT number of the tyres were inward which cannot easily be read from outside. This indicates that the orientations of the tyres were not properly fixed which could adversely affect the performance of the tyres.
“The Federal Road Safety Corps Investigation Team (FIT) determines that the probable cause of the March 6, 2016 fatal crash at KM34 Kaduna -Abuja expressway near Rijana village, Kaduna State, was the driver’s failure to maintain directional control of his vehicle when the rear left tyre burst occurred.
“Severity of the fatality was increased due to the ejection of the minister and his son as a result of non-use of rear seat belt,” Mr. Oyeyemi said.
The corps marshal recommended, among other things, “the certification and re-certification of convoy drivers at intervals of two years of issuance of convoy driver’s licence,” he said.
He therefore called for adherence to traffic rules, repairs of potholes on highways and also urged Mr. Buhari to lead the campaign on compliance with speed limits, starting with installation of speed limiting devices in commercial vehicles.