Imagine bidding farewell to your relative, your friend, your colleague who is traveling to attend to business, promising to return the same day after his or her activities only to hear he or she is no more. Imagine waiting for your parents, your relative, your friend who has been on a journey and returning home after a long while only to hear he or she is a victim of a much-publicized accident? I know these would be moments none will wish to happen to us but such is the sad news on our roads daily.
I was shaken to the marrow upon hearing the recent accident on Dompoase in the Central region, perhaps the story and numbers involved made the impact. About 35 people perished in a single collision with over 50 sustaining various degrees of injuries. Our roads are becoming increasingly unsafe for everyone and the earlier we find lasting solutions to these needless deaths, the better it will be for our country.
This is not the first road accident claiming many lives but that is the more reason why we should find a remedy to the senseless carnages destroying families forever. The impact of road accidents is perhaps underrated hence our lackadaisical attitude towards it. Our insolence as a nation leaves much to be desired when it comes to our view on road safety. Maybe our national psyche when it comes to the effect of road accidents on our economy is not far reaching-there needs to be a wakeup call to tackle this canker head-on.
Road accidents claiming lives have become a perennial problem that we look forward to doing the statistics every year. Dealing with road accidents needs a coordinated approach, something I see little of in the Ghanaian society. I won’t pretend to know it all but the history on our road accidents reveal a pattern that can perhaps lead to a no far-fetching solution.
Road accident records in Ghana according to the National Road Safety Commission (NRSC), over the past 5years paint a gloomy picture for the future. If care is not taken, road accidents claiming lives in the 1000s annually would be normalized as part of our annual expectations. The last 5years, if not more, vindicates the point that a lot needs to be done in alleviating the deaths on our roads.
The year 2015 saw One-thousand eight hundred and two (1,802) innocent lives perish in fatalities with Ten-thousand, five hundred and sixty-five (10,565) injuries, changing lives and destinies of families and individuals negatively forever. The same can be said of 2016, which saw an increase in fatalities. Two-thousand and eighty-four (2,084) people lost their lives with Ten-thousand, four hundred and thirty-eight (10,438) injuries.
Road accident fatalities hovered around the 2000s in the year 2017 with Two-thousand, and seventy-six (2,076) precious souls perishing in such a gruesome manner. 2018 and 2019 saw a sharp increase in death from road accidents with 2,341 and 2,284 respectively.
I find no delight in rehashing these statistics of road accident deaths, but these figures give a staggering reality on the road safety management system in Ghana. The impacts of these figures have social, economic, emotional, physical and psychological impacts and effects which will forever plaque families and friends of individuals involved in road accidents.
The multi-faceted nature of road accidents and the management system required to need all hands on board in dealing with road carnages. We need not leave it to authorities alone because the most affected in all is the ordinary citizen.
Though the government’s role cannot be overlooked in dealing with accidents on our roads, perhaps they need a bit of ‘vigilantism’ in finding a solution to the many deaths. The 2018 announcement of an action plan by the government to deal with accidents was perhaps, positive action in the right direction but the impact so far has been minimal. It was a good mitigating factor but as usual, the follow-through action lagged behind. The action plan contained in a report focused on three main areas; education, enforcement, and engineering.
The National Road Safety Commission was tasked to scale their public education and sensitization; maybe they need to change their modus operandi. Bodies such as the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) and Nationwide Traffic Management and Enforcement Limited (NTMEL) were to handle enforcement of laws and regulations respectively.
Ghana Highway Authority, Department of Urban Roads and Department of Feeder Road were mandated to provide signage and road markings for roads over three (3) year period. The extent of implementation of the action plan can be felt negligibly as the road slaughter continues.
More needs to be done in terms of supervision and investment from the government in making sure our roads are safe with enough lighting, road markings, and road signage. The education, sensitization and law enforcement needs to be on top of the government’s agenda. If the government cannot ensure road regulations laws are enforced to protect us, they have no business being at the helm of affairs to be paid with taxpayers’ money.
Drivers play a major contributing factor in road traffic accidents. Experts suggested that factors such as ‘overspeeding’, talking on the phone while driving, illness, driving while using alcohol or drugs-both legal and illegal, brake failure, mechanical failure causes road accidents.
Dangerous curves and intersections, poor visibility, lack of sidewalks; lack of proper signs, signals, markings among others, also accounts for some road crashes according to B&FT online article published in April 2019. Even though finding solutions to the above-enumerated causes does not seem difficult, they continue to contribute to the many carnages on our roads.
Road users and passengers are the most affected victims in road accidents hence their role in accident prevention should be paramount – in checking speeding, needless overtaking and drunk driving by drivers. The role of the NCCE is perhaps crucial in educating and sensitizing the public of their civic duty in preventing road accidents.
The energy that should drive our conversation on road accidents should not be underestimated since the social impact of the individuals lasts forever. Road accidents maim and deform parents who are perhaps breadwinners leaving them to disable. The impact on communities, the psychological effects on individuals and the economic bearing on families persist forever.
Curbing and preventing road accidents is, therefore, a shared responsibility which we all need to roll up our sleeves and push through advocate and education. While asking for authorities to do their part, we as citizens should not renege on ours.
God bless our homeland Ghana, and make her great and strong!!
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