DVLA must prioritize brain tests over eye tests
DVLA must prioritize brain tests over eye tests
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DVLA must prioritize brain tests over eye tests

An estimated 10 percent of Ghanaians have common mental health conditions, while 1–3 percent have severe mental health conditions such as schizophrenia. Yet only 2 percent of such persons will receive treatment.

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As Ghana grapples with the carnage on its roads, one stark reality stands out: the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority’s (DVLA's)  overemphasis on eye tests is a recipe for disaster. It's time to put the brain at the centre of driver licensing and ensure our roads are safe for all.

The eyes may be the windows to the soul, but the brain holds the keys when it comes to road safety. The DVLA must recognize this and prioritize brain assessments to reduce accidents and save lives.

The Ghanaian Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) has traditionally emphasised eye tests as a prerequisite for driver's licenses, despite mounting evidence suggesting that mental faculties, decision-making, and overall driving competence are the leading contributors to road accidents in Ghana. This misalignment of priorities raises critical concerns about the DVLA's approach to ensuring road safety. In this article, I will analyze the relevant statistics, explore the primary causes of road crashes, and argue that the DVLA must reassess its focus, shifting from eye tests to comprehensive brain assessments.

According to the National Road Safety Authority, the top five causes of road crashes in Ghana are speeding, reckless driving, driver error, fatigue, and vehicle defects. These statistics unequivocally indicate that the primary factors contributing to road accidents are closely linked to mental capacities, rather than eye health alone. It is perplexing that the DVLA continues to prioritize eye tests, given the overwhelming evidence suggesting that brain function is the more critical factor in ensuring road safety.

The leading contributors to road crashes – speeding, reckless driving, driver error, fatigue, and vehicle defects – are all directly related to mental faculties, decision-making, and overall driving competence. These factors are more closely tied to brain function than eye function. For instance:

1. Speeding and reckless driving require a lapse in judgment and decision-making, which are cognitive processes.

2.  Driver error often results from a lack of attention, poor judgment, or inadequate knowledge, all of which are brain-related functions.

3.  Fatigue impairs cognitive abilities, leading to decreased reaction time and poor decision-making.

4. Vehicle defects, while a physical issue, can often be traced back to cognitive lapses, such as neglect or a lack of maintenance.

Given the evidence, it is imperative that the DVLA shifts its focus from eye tests to comprehensive brain assessments. Brain tests can evaluate a driver's cognitive abilities, knowledge, and skills, providing a more holistic evaluation of their fitness to operate a vehicle. This approach would help identify potential risks and hazards on the road, ultimately reducing the number of accidents and promoting safer driving practices in Ghana.

The DVLA's disproportionate emphasis on eye tests over brain tests is a misplaced priority that fails to address the root causes of road accidents in Ghana. By shifting focus towards brain-based assessments, the DVLA can better evaluate drivers' cognitive abilities, decision-making skills, and overall driving competence, leading to a significant reduction in road crashes and a safer driving culture in Ghana. 

It is time for the DVLA to reassess its priorities and adopt a more comprehensive approach to driver licensing, one that prioritizes brain function over eye function. Only then can we ensure that our roads are safer for all users.

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