Stop the carnage on our roads

Road accidents have become one of the leading causes of deaths in Ghana. On the average, 6 people die every day and about 2,000 lives perish annually through traffic crashes across the country.

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The National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) revealed that April and December were the most accident-prone months in Ghana as well as public holidays.

the Writer (ASP James Annan)
the Writer (ASP James Annan)

Statistics showed that motor accidents are predominant in the Greater Accra, Brong Ahafo, Easter, and Ashanti regions. In fact, these regions constitute 64% of the total number of road traffic crashes nationwide.
As of October 2015, a total of 11,035 road accidents involving 16,749 vehicles were recorded nationwide. Of the total figures, 1,606 people perished and 9,648 sustained various degrees of injuries.

Not long ago, 10 people perished in a fatal accident on the Bonwire-Hohoe Jasikan road while several others were injured. The story of a 75-year-old woman and two children who got killed by a hit-and-run driver in Accra was unfortunate.

Barely 48hours into the New Year, a Ghanaian highlife legend, Amakye Dede, narrowly escaped death in a fatal road accident. Unfortunately, the manager of the wounded highlife musician, Isaac Yeboah, lost his life.
Causes

Globally, there is an upsurge in the number of road traffic crashes as a result of national population growth and other demographic factors.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), a total of 1.25million people die every year through road traffic fatalities worldwide.

There are many factors that account for motor traffic crashes. Take Ghana for example, more than 90% of road crashes are as a result of human errors such as speeding, poor driving skills, drunk-driving, reckless driving, and gross indiscipline.

Others are corruption, flouting road safety signs, lack of maintenance, broken down vehicles, fatigue driving, overloading, unworthy vehicles, bad roads, poor vision, and bad weather.
A report from the NRSC confirmed that the major causes of road traffic crashes are speeding, drink-driving, lack of driving skills, and fatigue driving.

However, excessive speeding alone accounts for more than 50% of factors leading to motor crashes in Ghana.
Road safety awareness

The NRSC deserves commendation for embarking on road safety campaign to educate the public ahead of the Christmas season in 2015.

The accident-free Christmas campaign was launched to raise public awareness of the high number of road accidents, especially during festive occasions such as the Yuletide.

As a matter of fact, the fight against road carnage is a shared responsibility and, for that matter, drivers, motorcyclists, passengers, and pedestrians must show concern to ensure their own safety.

Subsequently, President John Dramani Mahama added his voice in support of the road safety campaign. His Excellency hit the nail on the head admonishing passengers to bold enough to speak up against drivers’ misconduct, and report recalcitrant drivers to the police.

The NRSC in collaboration with the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE) has to do more by intensifying road safety awareness and public education across the length and breadth of the country.
Are traffic laws effective?

The WHO reported that 80 countries have succeeded in bringing the number of road crashes low as a result of improved legislation on traffic laws and effective implementation.
On the contrary, enforcing traffic laws in Ghana has not been satisfactory because of bribery, corruption, and lack of willpower.

As a country, we can control the avoidable carnage on our roads by adopting best practices of enforcing traffic laws on seatbelt, drink-driving, speeding, motorcycle helmet, and a few more.
For example, most motorcyclists are noted for flouting traffic regulations even though they are highly vulnerable to road crashes.

It is, therefore, not surprising that motorcycle accidents represent 23% of the total number of road traffic deaths nationwide.

Meanwhile, the decision to introduce spot fine system for traffic offences is long overdue. The repugnant lawlessness and corruption on our roads must cease.

Effects on economy

Ghana loses an average of 1.6% of gross domestic product (GDP) through road traffic crashes annually. Some of the factors include property damage, loss of productive hours, medical expenses, loss of job, and many more.
The WHO estimated that motor accidents impact negatively on global economy. For instance, most countries lose between 1% and 3% of their GDP to road accidents every year.

Road traffic fatalities can pose a threat to national development, particularly in terms of agribusiness, tourism, trade, transport industry, and business, just to mention a few.

Sadly, about 60% of road crash victims are between the productive ages of 18 and 55 years with about 75% of them being males.

Most accident victims who are left maimed or disable become burdensome on family members, loved ones and the society as a whole.

It must be emphasised that the transport industry plays an important role in well-being of society and the economy of Ghana.

The way forward

For some strange reason, many attribute road crashes to spiritual factors, but to the expertise human errors, as mentioned above, need to be addressed in order to reduce traffic crashes to the barest minimum.
In my opinion, driving school operators should accept moderate fees, since most learners can’t afford to pay the exorbitant charges required to undergo f
ormal training. This explains the influx of unqualified drivers in the country.

Ideally, every professional driver must be intellectual, skillful, and knowledgeable. However, most Ghanaian drivers lack these qualities, to say the least.

In addition, unworthy vehicles should be flushed out from our roads. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) should ensure that overage and rickety vehicles do not pass roadworthy test.

The Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) should be well equipped to enforce road traffic laws effectively. Corrupt officers who extort money from motorists should be eliminated from the Service.

Every life is precious, so let’s take precautionary measures as we begin a fresh year. I wish every motorist and Ghanaians in general accident-free year in 2016!

2. A police officer examing an accident scene

3. Excessive speeding - the major cause of road fatalities

5. The lifeless bodies of accident victims in their prime age

6. Reckless driving is a recipe for disaster
By ASP James Annan
Gt. Accra Regional PRO
Senior Correctional Centre
jamesannan2006@gmail.com

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