Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola SAN, Governor of Lagos State on 2nd August, 2012, signed into law the new Lagos State Road Traffic law, in view of the old maxim that says “ignorance of the law is no excuse”, it is wise for all Lagosians to know by heart the provisions of this radical law which would revolutionize traffic management in the state.

The Law operates alongside the already existing traditional road traffic rules and offences including driving without due care and attention. The Law empowers LASTMA to demand psychiatric evaluation of any person who drives against the normal flow of traffic or fails to comply with any provision of the law at the offender’s cost, if in the opinion of any LASTMA
officer, such is necessary for the purpose of determining the person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle. The law also gives the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) the power to apply breath, blood and urine specimen testing on any driver to detect drunk-driving or driving under the influence of drugs.

LASTMA is also empowered by the new law to designate as bus lanes for priority service, a side of Ikotun-Ejigbo-Cele Expressway, Iyana-Ipaja-Agege, Pen Cinema, Ojodu -Berger; Iyana-Ipaja-Idimu-Iyana-Iba Roundabout, Iyana-Idimu-Ikotun, Berger-3rd Mainland-Tafawa Balewa Square, Iyana-Oworo-Anthony-Oshodi-Mile 2-Apapa, Sango-Iyana-Ipaja-Oshodi and Orile Iganmu-Mile 2- Okokomaiko roads, during peak hours of 6.00 a.m. to 10.00 a.m. and 4.00 p.m. to 9.00 p.m.

The Law also bars anybody from operating a motorcycle or tricycle without a Rider’s Card issued by MVAA, without wearing a standard protective crash helmet, carrying more than one passenger at a time, while a pregnant woman, a child below the age of 12 or an adult carrying heavy load on his head should not be carried as passenger at all. “Anybody caught in this act risks an imprisonment of three years or community service and forfeiture of the vehicle while the passenger will also be prosecuted except such a passenger is a child.

The law, specifically excludes anybody from riding motorcycle, driving tricycle or propelling a cart on Lagos – Ibadan Expressway, Apapa – Oshodi Expressway, Ikorodu Road, Agege Motor Road, Funsho Williams Avenue, Eko Bridge, 3rd Mainland Bridge, Carter Bridge, Lagos-Badagry Expressway, Victoria Island-Lekki-Epe Expressway and all bridges not earlier mentioned, however, where motorcycles are permitted, they can only operate between the hours of 6.00 a.m. and 8.00 p.m.

All motorcycles below 200cc engine capacity shall not be used or operated on bridges or carriage roads with two or more lanes in the opposite directions while mail distribution or other courier service motorcycles exempted from route restriction by the Ministry of Transport can only operate if they have 200cc or above engine capacity, carry prescribed number plates and identification, fitted with proper mail cabin and do not carry passengers.

The penalties for neglect of traffic signs, traffic light and traffic directions or driving against on-coming traffic, include forfeiture and imprisonment for one year for first offender and three years and forfeiture for subsequent cases if found guilty. The list of offences include, driving on BRT lane, parking within 15 metres of a road intersection, using sirens and other noisy devices in a vehicle, driver or conductor on duty failing to wear the prescribe uniform or identification tag, driving or being driven on unauthorized routes and herding or allowing cattle, sheep, goats or other animals on the road, smoking and eating while driving.

Driving an unregistered, unlicensed vehicle or vehicle without valid identification mark attracts a penalty of N20, 000 for first offender and N30.000 or three years imprisonment or both for subsequent offences and conditions for use of trailers where the law now bars trailers from entering or travelling within the Lagos Metropolis between 6.00 a.m. and 9.00 p.m. although fuel tankers and long vehicles for carrying passengers are exempted. Any trailer contravening the law will be impounded and N50.000 fine imposed or imprisonment for six month for the driver.

According to the law, it is henceforth an offence to sell alcoholic drinks, herbal or pharmaceutical drugs within 100 metres of a bus stop, terminus or motor park; hawk, vend or offer for sale any item of goods or services or beg or solicit for alms or engage in cleaning windscreens or any part of a vehicle on the highway or bridge. Other offences include displaying of wares on walkways, dropping or picking of passengers on fast lanes or undesignated bus-stop by commercial vehicles.

Provisions of the new law will apply to public officers or other persons in the service of the State ,the purpose of proceedings for an offence in connection with any official vehicle, any person other than the driver, the person nominated by the Department in whose service the vehicle is used, shall be deemed to be the person actually responsible unless it is otherwise proved to the satisfaction of the court.

Also, the law bars all traffic officers from demanding, willfully condoning, conniving, abetting or receiving gratification in cash or kind from any person to circumvent the provisions of the law while contravention by any officer will attract summary dismissal and prosecution under the ACL Law. Vehicle inspection Officer are also empowered under the law to inspect, control, regulate and enforce road worthiness standards, pre-registration inspection, emergency services, issuance of Road Worthiness Certificates, testing for license or riders’ card etc.