Ghana woke up on Friday, March 22, 2019 to yet another gory accident on our roads, this time claiming over 80 lives.
As a health and safety professional, I would like to use the recent accident to present a health and safety perspective to road traffic accidents. I will present the fact so far from reports, questions and propose solutions.
What are the facts from the recent accident?
1. The driver of one of the buses was believed to be dozing behind the wheels.
2. There were no street lights on the road.
3. Most passengers died as the bus somersaulted/burned.
4. One of the buses caught fire upon collision.
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5. Both buses were damaged beyond recognition and repair.
6. Help was delayed.
The questions I ask from the recent accident are varied.
Were the drivers fit to drive, even at night? Had the drivers undergone medical test, especially eye tests to ensure they had good eyesight to drive?
Were the drivers in good physical and mental condition? Were the drivers under the influence of alcohol?
Were the drivers tired? The Google map shows that the driver travelling from Garu had been travelling for about seven hours if he used the Savelugu–Tamale route.
Were street lights available on the roads?
Were the passengers in seat belts?
Why did one of the vehicles catch fire? Was it faulty?
At what speed were the drivers driving?
How long did it take for the emergency services to arrive? What did the first people who arrived at the scene do?
Is there something that can be done to curb this accident menace?
I present the health and safety solution to road accidents in Ghana.
1.A journey management plan should be put in place for long distance trips.
According to Safeopaedia (2019), a journey management plan is a set process of safety steps undertaken as part of a road transport journey, particularly one that involves driving for several hours.
The plans are designed to account for and, thus, reduce the risks associated with driver fatigue, inclement or dangerous road conditions and other hazards.
2. Street lights should be provided, as visibility is decreased in the dark. When street lights are available, it improves safety for drivers and passengers.
3. Seat belts, in good condition, should be fitted in buses. Seat belts save lives.
According to The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA), seat belts are designed to retain people in their seats and so prevent or reduce injuries suffered in a crash.
They ensure that as little contact is made between the occupant and vehicle interior as possible and significantly reduce the risk of being thrown from a vehicle.
4. Buses should be periodically inspected.
Most often in the transport yards, when a bus arrives at its destination, no checks are done, and the bus is ‘loaded’ with passengers and sent back on the road on another long journey.
What systems are put in place to ensure the buses are in good condition to travel on a long journey again?
5. Speed limits should be set for bus drivers as is done for fuel tank trucks.
Looking at the degree of the damages to the vehicles and casualties, it can be concluded that the drivers were speeding.
Higher speed means a crash will cause more severe damage and injuries.
6. Public awareness about what to do at an accident scene, basic first aid techniques etc. are necessary to save lives in the event of an accident.
The education sector can integrate basic safety practices, including basic first aid training, at the primary school level.
7. Ultimately, drivers should be trained in defensive driving techniques.
I had the opportunity to attend a defensive driving course in Tema.
The topics treated at the course included defensive driving techniques, causes of road accidents, driving policy, conditions of a fit driver, driving to prevent accidents etc. Training is essential for drivers.
Further questions are asked.
Are the road accidents investigated? Are the immediate and root causes identified?
Are there reports on lessons learnt and shared with the drivers unions, transport companies and the general public?
We all need answers.
The writer is a health and safety professional & consultant.