Once again, Christmas is here with us and, hopefully, next Sunday, Christmas Day, there will be a lot of activities, including church services, across the country to mark the season.
Typically, during this period, people travel to their respective hometowns and villages to share fraternal greetings, pursue other domestic interests and make merry.
Unfortunately, amid the fun and the merriment, some people become careless in their behaviour. We find these acts of carelessness, particularly on our roads, quite disturbing.
Even more worrying is the fact that statistics suggest that road accidents increase during festive seasons such as Christmas.
Figures from the National Road Safety Authority (NRSA) indicate that 13,675 road crashes were reported from January to November this year, as against 14,734 within that same period in 2021, with 2,171 people being killed this year, as against 2,654 in 2021.
The NRSA says the reduction in road crashes and the gains made so far evidently show that the initiatives that it has rolled out, in collaboration with other stakeholders, have started yielding results.
Some of the initiatives, for instance, the ‘Arrive Alive’ and the ‘Stay Alive’ education and sensitisation programmes, have resulted in attitudinal change among drivers and other road users.
The authority is also convinced that the reduction in crashes is due to the stronger collaboration between the NRSA and commercial transport operators, particularly the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU).
The strong collaboration between the NRSA and the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service, with support from the Inspector General of Police (IGP), has also been mentioned as a contributory factor to the effective enforcement of road traffic regulations.
The NRSA is, however, quick to add that the gains made this year are only the beginning of the fight to bring sanity on our roads, and that this does not mean that it will relax. It has given an assurance that it will intensify its campaigns to further reduce accidents significantly.
It is for this reason that its launch of the road safety campaign for this year's Christmas and New Year festivities to ensure that we go through accident-free festivities must be welcomed by all.
Dubbed: ‘Operation Stay Alive’, the campaign emphasises the need for drivers and other road users to be disciplined and obey road traffic regulations to ensure that no souls are lost to accidents.
It is worthy to note that the campaign is being launched in collaboration with other stakeholders, bearing in mind the fact that reducing road accidents around this festive season is a collective effort.
Therefore, it is gratifying to note that the initiative is receiving support from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), the MTTD, the Ghana Road Transport Coordinating Council (GRTCC), the GPRTU, the Parliamentary Select Committee on Transport and other partners.
It is important to note that to ensure that this festive season passes without accidents, we must all play our roles to ensure road safety. We have observed that some of the causes of road accidents are the use of mobile phones while driving, speeding and unsafe overtaking, driving under the influence of alcohol, distracting drivers while driving and failure to wear seat belts.
We hope that as Christmas fast approaches, we will avoid these negative tendencies which only result in needless accidents which could be avoided, in the first instance.
The pain associated with road crashes cannot be underestimated. They result not only in fatalities but also leave families traumatised, especially when they lose their breadwinners and benefactors. Children sometimes are forced to drop out of school because they lose their parents through road crashes. When that happens, the nation also loses its great talents and potential rich human resource that could have been found in the affected children and harnessed for development.
It is our view that we will do everything possible to go through the Christmas period without any hitches and we will have the opportunity to see another year.
We wish you a Merry Christmas in advance!