An apt analogy as a guiding light for Ghana’s motorists

BY: Ajoa Yeboah-Afari

OH no! Not another one! That was my reaction when last Sunday, I heard on Radio Ghana the news of the tragic loss of lives of two students of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, through a campus car accident at dawn on Saturday.

Two other occupants of their private car were said to be in a critical condition.

The news also prompted me to reflect on Ghana’s shocking road carnage figures; and a comparison a taxi driver had made between handling eggs and handling human
lives.

The horrific, ever rising vehicle accident toll should be a matter of utmost concern to everybody because we are all at risk.

Sooner or later, everybody needs to be a road user, either as a passenger, driver, cyclist or pedestrian.

And someone’s bad road behaviour, or sheer carelessness, could make one a victim, part of road accident statistics.

Road crashes remain the leading cause of death in Ghana, according to road safety campaigners.

With the approach of Easter 2021, the National Road Safety Commission and the Ghana Police have intensified their educational messages as they do ahead of every festive season because it seems more casualties are recorded during such occasions.

One can only pray that motorists are paying attention because the indications are not encouraging.

As reported by Joy Online on March 19, in just the first two months of this year, more than 500 lives were lost through road accidents!

The report stated:

A total of 517 persons died through road accidents between January and February this year, the Ghana Police Service has said.

This is a significant increase in the 393 cases recorded in the same period last year.

In all, 2560 road accident cases have been reported between these past two months involving 1581 commercial vehicles, 974 motorcycles, and 2766 pedestrians have been knocked down

On Onua FM last week, the head of Ghana’s Bureau of Public Safety reportedly expressed the view that the country has not paid adequate attention to road safety; much more needs to be done.

The Bureau’s Executive Director, Nana Yaw Akwada, pointed out “that is why every year Ghana records excess of 2000 deaths through road crashes.”

Mr. Akwada suggested that the Government should commit more resources to road safety and also introduce strong regulations.

“The leadership of the National Road Safety Commission is doing a good job in terms of public education, yet the effort is not reflecting on the road,” he said.

Reading the above alarming figures, and with Easter travel on my mind, the question a taxi driver once posed to underscore his belief that carelessness is at the root of most road fatalities, became even more meaningful.

As I wrote in this column last year, I was in a taxi when, prompted by a reckless manouvre a driver in the next lane had made, the taxi driver asked the haunting question. The recklessness had led to a discussion of the terrible accident at Dompoase. More than 30 precious lives were lost on the spot on January 13 (2020),
with many others seriously injured.

(Column of February 1, 2020, ‘Of eggs and human lives, a memorable analogy’.)

The taxi driver attributed most of such accidents to human error; in a word: “carelessness!” He added: “Why would anybody want to do an overtaking in a curve, when you can’t see the road ahead?”

He continued with his perceptive question: “Madam, have you ever heard that a vehicle transporting eggs has been involved in an accident? Never! “I have been a driver for many years and I have never heard of any such accident! Why? Obviously because the drivers know that what they are transporting are fragile items, eggs; and
nobody has to tell them they have to drive with care!

“So, madam, does it mean that eggs are more valuable than human beings?

We value eggs more than human lives?” I couldn’t help but appreciate the wisdom in his memorable analogy.

Truly, taking a trip on any of Ghana’s highways, notably the Accra – Kumasi route, which is the one I’m most familiar with, countless times one has cause to wonder at the careless manoeuvres some motorists make. One wonders, too, if they ever pay attention to the road accident statistics that have become a regular feature in our news.

Clearly, most of them don’t. And even if they do pay attention, they apparently believe that they have ‘accident immunity’, that “it can’t happen to me”.

Speaking at the Dompoase accident scene, Mr. Kwesi Amoako Attah, Roads and Highways Minister, emphasized the importance of the role of drivers.

He stressed that regardless of the excellent work that his ministry would do in terms of providing road infrastructure, or the work of other departments: “if at the end of the day drivers don’t change their attitude, but continue to drink and drive; continue to overtake at areas that do not permit overtaking”, lives will continue to be lost
needlessly.

One study last year listed the following as the major causes of accidents on our roads: poor nature of roads; carelessness of road users; faulty vehicles; stress; unskilled drivers; inadequate road signs; speeding; lack of education; drunkenness; and gross indiscipline.

And I believe that “indiscipline” includes such practices as using a mobile phone while driving, or engaging in other distractions.

Nevertheless, despite all the above cited contributory factors, clearly if motorists considered all those threats to safe driving every time they are on the road, with care they would still be able to ‘arrive safely’ and also avoid risking the lives of others. This makes the taxi driver’s comparison all the more significant.

To echo the wisdom of the sharp-witted taxi driver, motorists need to drive using as their guiding light the caution applied in the transportation of uncooked eggs.

Definitely, eggs can’t be rated more precious than human lives!

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