Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, on Thursday in Ikeja, signed the Lagos State Road Traffic Bill into law.
The governor assented to the bill at a ceremony attended by members of the executive council, top officials of the police and traffic management agencies.
Fashola said the new law, a holistic review of the state's traffic law of 2003, was designed to ensure safety on the roads.
He said that the growth of Lagos into a mega city, and the teeming migration into the state, had resulted in traffic congestion, and the new law was one of government`s strategies to manage the situation.
"This new law is also the state government`s intervention to the alarming statistics on road accidents, especially those caused by reckless driving and activities of commercial motorcyclists. From records at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), 722 accidents were reported, comprising 568 males and 154 females between January and July this year," the governor said.
"At our Toll Gate Trauma Centre, 254 accidents, which resulted in 35 deaths, were recorded during the same period. Fifty percent of the cases were caused by okada riders, 27 percent of the victims were passengers and 23 percent pedestrians. These are alarming figures and we cannot afford to allow this to continue, hence our intervention with this law."
Fashola sought residents’ voluntary compliance with the law, emphasising that its real objective was to improve the traffic situation, rather than putting people in jail.
He pledged that his government would strictly implement the law, assuring that offenders would be given fair hearing and would be accorded the right to defend themselves during prosecution.
Ade Ipaye, Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice, said the law seeks to increase the life expectancy of residents as it would significantly reduce congestion.
Ipaye added that the law would address the safety and security issues associated with operations of commercial motorcyclists and illegal use of vehicles in the state. He said the law would not be implemented immediately, rather, a lot of public enlightenment would be carried out while copies of the law would be distributed to residents.
The new law clearly spells out what constitutes traffic offences in the state, as well as the penalties.
According to the document, trailers, with the exemption of fuel tankers and long passenger trucks, are now prohibited from entering into or travelling within the metropolis from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Violators risk impoundment of their vehicles and payment of N50,000 fine or six months imprisonment.
Another provision of the law is the prohibition of eating, counting money, making phone calls and engaging in other dangerous activities while driving. The provision prescribes a fine of N30,000 for violators.
Other highlights include the ban on operation of commercial motorcycles and tricycles on major bridges, Ikorodu Road, Funsho Williams Avenue, Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, Lagos-Badagry Expressway and Lekki-Epe Expressway.
The law also compels commercial bus drivers and their conductors to wear identification tags, while property owners are to report cases of abandoned vehicles in their vicinity or risk punishment.
Officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) are empowered to administer breathalysers on drivers to detect their drunkenness, while owners of commercial vehicles are compelled to obtain operating licences from government.