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Riskiest road in Accra; time to change attitudes

BY: Daily Graphic
Riskiest road in Accra; time to change attitudes
Riskiest road in Accra; time to change attitudes

The George Walker Bush Highway, along the National Road One (N1) stretch in Accra has been named as the riskiest in the capital.

According to the 2021 Accra Road Safety report by the National Road Safety Authority (NRSA) and other collaborators, the N1 road in Accra is the riskiest in the capital. (See Front Page lead story)

The Accra portion of the N1 is 14 kilometres but the full stretch is 540 kilometres of road that passes through major towns and cities—From Elubo and Sekondi-Takoradi in the Western Region; Cape Coast,Yamoransa,Winneba and Kasoa in the Central Region; Accra,Tema, Kase and Dawhenya in the Greater Accra Region; Aveyime-Battor, Dabala Akatsi, Denu, Sogakope and Aflao in the Volta Region.

The report also cited the Opeibia, Lapaz, North Dzorwulu, Kawukudi and Hansonic intersections as the top five fatal crash intersections in the capital.

The report, part of a global road safety initiative, also named the Apenkwa overhead-Dimples Roundabout; Akweteyman-Lapaz, Airport Junction - North Dzorwulu Intersection, Abeka junction-Total Station (J.A. Kufuor Avenue), and the Hansonic-Kaneshie First Light as the top five fatal crash corridors in the city.

For us at the Daily Graphic, such revelations must be important pointers to guide us on the appropriate use of those roads. The truth of the matter is that it is not the six-lane N1 highway(14 kilometre stretch) that is the risk, but clearly an attitudinal problem.

It simply has to do with driving carelessly, disobedience to road traffic regulations, breakdown vehicles left unattended to and pedestrians crossing anyhow, among other negative behaviours, all contributing to making the N1 stretch the riskiest.

We are also not unaware of the causes of the risk which include inattentive driving either through people driving with earphones on, receiving or making calls on their mobile phones.

Other leading risks on the stretch have been identified to include speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, fatigue driving, wrongful overtaking, inexperienced drivers at the wheel and general disregard for road traffic regulations.

In order to quickly reverse the trend, there is the need for an attitudinal change through enhanced public education. Furthermore, law enforcers must also be seen to be up and doing to ensure that those portions described as risky in the report are safe for public use.

While efforts are being made to reduce carnage on our roads, we are equally happy about a recent revelation by the NRSA that for the first time in 20 years, crashes on our roads reduced by 20 per cent in 2022 .(See front page of the Daily Graphic of Thursday, January 12, 2023 ).

This achievement must be a relief to many Ghanaians and stakeholders working together to reduce carnage on our roads. We believe this achievement was due to the stronger collaboration between the NRSA and commercial transport operators, particularly the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU), the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), the Parliamentary Select Committee on Transport and other partners.

Additionally, some of the NRSA initiatives introduced such as the ‘Arrive Alive’ and the ‘Stay Alive’ education and sensitisation programmes, resulted in some attitudinal change among drivers and other road users, hence the achievements for last year.

The statistics made available to the Daily Graphic showed that from January to December last year, out of the 14,960 reported road crashes, 2,373 people lost their lives. This simply means that we can still do far better.

Between January 1 and 12, 2023, the nation greeted the New Year with road fatalities and injuries as we reported that at least nine people lost their lives in the Gomoa Antseadze and Gomoa Potsin areas of the Central Region. We think that these unfortunate crashes occurring just at the beginning of this year point to the fact that the nation may not be out of the woods yet in terms of reducing carnage on roads.

Experience over the past years shows that whenever the year starts off on such tragic trajectory, it becomes almost impossible or difficult to halt these accidents as the year progresses.

These human lives lost through the crashes have serious implications for the country. It is significant to note that the 2022 World Health Organisation (WHO) report indicated that road traffic crashes cost most countries 3 per cent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

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

The WHO further pointed out that more than 90 per cent of road traffic deaths occurred in low and middle-income countries including Ghana.

The Daily Graphic is convinced that road traffic injuries and deaths can be prevented. There is the need to take concrete steps to address road safety issues in a holistic manner.

This therefore requires a more elaborate plan to involve multiple sectors such as transport, the police, health, education, and actions that address the safety of roads, vehicles and road users.

Effective interventions should therefore include designing safer infrastructure and incorporating road safety features into land use and transport planning, improving the safety features of vehicles, enhancing post-crash care for victims of road traffic crashes, setting and enforcing laws relating to key risks and raising public awareness.

Care must also be taken not to blame the carnage on our roads on superstitious beliefs or an act of God when clearly these accidents are avoidable.

While reducing the carnage internally, we will at the end of the day be achieving and contributing to the United Nations General Assembly’s target of halving the global number of deaths and injuries from road traffic crashes by 2030.