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Menace of road traffic accidents

BY: Abraham Frank Eshun

Incessant sustainable decision making about proper management of road traffic accidents in the world is one of the highest essential contributions we can make to save lives and properties.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), every year, the lives of more than 1.25 million folks are cut short as a consequence of the menace of road traffic crash globally.

Additionally, 90 per cent of road traffic deaths occur in low and middle-income countries and road traffic injury death rates are highest on the African continent, including Ghana.

Road traffic accidents have become escalating concerns to most Ghanaians in contemporary times due to its negative impacts on human lives, properties, environment and Ghana’s economy at large.

Researchers have come out with the causes, including poor driving skills, drivers talking on mobile phones while driving, gross indiscipline and broken-down vehicles on road sides.

The use of worn-out second-hand tyres, overloading, neglecting traffic regulations, as well as lack of road markings, signs and maintenance were other causes that were mentioned.


The National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) expressed great anxiety over the rise in the number of road crashes in November 2016 and recorded a total number of 11,378 road crashes nationwide encompassing 17,746 vehicles, of which casualties stood at 12,154 comprising of 1,990 deaths and 10,154 injuries.

The writer

In 2017, according to the NRSC, about 708 persons died from 4,049 road accidents as of April, 3,983 persons sustained various degrees of injury, with 1,199 pedestrian knockdowns involving 6,468 vehicles and 1,289 motorbikes.

Road accidents make innocent people compulsorily disabled and put others in poverty and death prematurely.

Accidents

We cannot in any circumstance just forget the incident of Ghanaian talented young popular artist Priscilla Opoku-Kwarteng, popularly known as ‘Ebony’, and the two others that occurred recently on the Mankraso stretch of the Kumasi- Sunyani road.

Moreover, as a country, we should not talk about road accidents only and when it involves important personalities and soon after go to sleep; because for everyone who dies in road traffic accidents in Ghana, the family and other relatives are affected one way or the other, either permanently or temporarily.

This has turned the success, aspirations and progress of certain kinfolks down; some children have stopped schooling due to lack of sponsorship because the lives of some of their parents have been cut short by road accidents.

These losses arise from the cost of treatment and productivity for those killed or disabled by their injuries, and for family members who take time off work or school to care for the injured.

Road traffic crashes cost most countries three per cent of their gross domestic product.

However, it is currently estimated by the WHO that road traffic crashes will be the third leading cause of death worldwide by the year 2020 if rigorous actions are not taken.

In Ghana, while the number of road accidents has increased, preemptive measures should be taken by all stakeholders since it is a shared responsibility and public health concern to reduce the menace.

There should also be the formulation of road policies and enforcement of road safety laws, rules and regulations to manage speed by creating low-speed zones in urban settings, setting speed limits according to road type, enforcing the wearing of requisite helmets and incessant use of seat belts inter alia.

Political will

According to the Director-General of the WHO, Dr Margaret Chan, “Political will is needed at the highest level of government to ensure appropriate road safety legislation and strict enforcement of laws by which we all need to abide. If this cannot be ensured, families and communities will continue to grieve and health systems will continue to bear the brunt of injury and disability due to road traffic crashes.”

Good data collection systems help to paint a realistic picture of the magnitude of a problem, provide a basis for better road safety policies and allow assessment of the efficiency of policies and programmes.

Therefore, there should also be the availability of accurate and reliable qualitative and quantitative data to know who dies, where and how, as well as information about risk factors.

The NRSC should embark on incessant vigorous road safety campaigns which necessitate joint stakeholder collaborative efforts to educate all road users on the need to abide by all road regulations.

The Ghana Highways Authority and the Department of Urban Roads should play their roles of maintaining and rehabilitating all bad roads.

The Ghana Police Service should be well equipped and motivated to check, arrest and prosecute all careless drivers and passengers who flout road regulations.

Road accidents are painful and detrimental irrespective of how, when, where and to whom it occurs; therefore, all and sundry must join the campaign to reduce the carnage on our roads.

The writer is a Journalist and Communication Consultant.
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