This breakdown vehicle on the highway is a death trap
This breakdown vehicle on the highway is a death trap

Road vampires- Breakdown vehicles devour lives

When Francis Nando closed the gate behind him on June 3, 2023, and embarked on a journey from Kpassa in the Nkwanta-North District in the Oti Region to Accra, little did his young family know that he would never return alive.


What started as a smooth journey for the 38-year-old turned rough when the 63-seater Vision Express Bus in which he was travelling crashed into a stationary truck on the shoulders of the road at Akuse Junction in the Eastern Region at about 9 p.m. His dream to climb higher the academic ladder and build a beautiful family was shattered when he was killed in the crash. 

The late Nando’s widow now has the arduous task of breaking her back to give her children a glimmer of hope. 

The sad narrative of Nando is a case study of how breakdown vehicles dotted across the country’s roads have been devouring lives like a blood-thirsty vampire. 

A comprehensive analysis of road traffic statistics from the National Road Safety Authority (NRSA) revealed that between 1991 and 2023, 58,156 persons died from 351,278 road crashes across the country, while 461,432 others suffered varying degrees of injury.

A further analysis of the NRSA statistics over a 10-year period (2012 to 2022) revealed that out of the 23,490 people who were killed in road crashes, 687 of the deaths occurred because of abandoned vehicles on the road. That constitutes nearly three per cent of the total deaths through road crashes within the period.

When put against the 58,156 persons killed in road crashes over the past three decades (1991 to 2023), it means that 1,687 those deaths could have been avoided if disabled vehicles on the shoulders of roads were towed as required by law.


Regulation 102 (1) of the Road Traffic Regulations, 2012 (L.I 2180) states: “An owner of a vehicle or person in charge of a motorcycle or trailer who causes or permits the motorcycle or trailer which breaks down on the road to be left on the road shall give notice to the nearest police station or authorise a towing service provider within an hour, if the breakdown vehicle or trailer is located within a built-up area; and within two hours if the breakdown vehicle or trailer is within a place other than a built-up area.”

Regulations 214(2) of L.I 2180 also states: “Where a motor vehicle is for any reason stationary on the roadway or the shoulder of a public road, the driver of such vehicle shall display or cause to be displayed at least one emergency warning sign in the manner contemplated in sub regulation (4).”

Despite the existence of these laws, some breakdown vehicles are still left on the road for days and sometimes months without being cleared.
Checks by the Daily Graphic at some sections of the 696-kilometre Eastern Corridor Road that stretches from Tema in the Greater Accra Region through the Eastern, Volta, Oti and the Upper East regions indicate that a lot  of vehicles, many of them trucks, are either left on the shoulders or in the middle of the road.

Sections of the N1 Highway such as the 145-kilometre Accra-Cape Coast road, 187-kilometre Aflao-Accra road, and the 130-kilometre Takoradi-Elubo road are replete with disabled vehicles.

Similarly, are the 126-kilometre Kumasi-Techiman road on the N10 highway; the Kintampo-Tamale roads, Accra-Suhum, Accra-Sogakope, Tarkwa-Bogoso-Ayafuri and Kumasi-Tamale roads.

Drivers’ experience 

Quite contrary to Regulations 214(2), some vehicle owners use car tyres to warn motorists of disabled vehicles ahead of them.

This is a disturbing development because some drivers complain that they do not see those lorry tyres early enough to avoid crashing into disabled vehicles.

According to the driver of a 207 mini-bus, Obed Nyamekye, the phenomenon of breakdown vehicles was one of the riskiest challenges he faced on the road.

“Every week, I carry passengers from Kpassa to Accra. For every trip, I spend almost 10 hours. I drive past faulty vehicles left on the shoulders of the road all the time; but it is dangerous for us, especially when we drive in the night because there are no warning signs to tell other drivers that there is danger ahead,” he said.

Another driver who plies the Accra-Yendi stretch of the Eastern Corridor road, Mohammed Abudu, said cargo trucks used for carting yams and other farm produce from the northern part of the country to Accra posed the biggest threats.

“Anytime these cargo trucks break down, they occupy a major part of the road. They can be on the road for many days, so if you are not careful, you can run into them, especially in the night,” he said.

Meanwhile, Konja Nlandon, a cargo truck driver, blamed the frequent breakdown of their vehicles on the bad nature of our roads.

“The roads are very bad. Sometimes, when the vehicle breaks down, you cannot readily get a good mechanic to fix it for you early enough. At times, we have to leave the truck there and come all the way to Accra to buy some parts before we can get it back on the road,” he said.


Crash investigations

A recent investigation by the NRSA into 19 notable road crashes attributed some of the deaths to disabled vehicles on the shoulders of roads.  
In 2010, a gory road crash claimed 20 lives at Dawa in the Greater Accra Region when a Metro Mass Transit (MMT) bus ran into a stationary truck at 4 a.m. 

Although crash investigations by the NRSA established fatigue driving as the immediate cause of the crash, it added that the remote cause was the presence of a disabled truck on the shoulder of the highway without adequate warning.

On January 20, 2022, four persons died on the spot, while 39 others sustained varying degrees of injury in an accident that occurred at Tuobodom in the Techiman North District on the Kintampo-Techiman highway in the Bono East Region. 

The accident occurred when a KIA Grandbird bus from Bolgatanga to Kumasi ran into a breakdown DAF articulated truck in front of the Tuobodom Senior High School.


Again, on March 13, 2022, a loaded mini-bus crashed into the side of a disabled vehicle on the shoulder of the road at 5:30 a.m. at Kwahu Oframase in the Eastern Region resulting in the death of five persons. Here again, the NRSA’s crash investigations cited speeding and wrongful overtaking as the immediate cause of the crash but added that the abandoned truck on the shoulder of the road, which had not been towed at the time, caused the deaths.

On March 13, 2022, 11 people were also killed at Asuboi in the Eastern Region when a loaded high-occupancy bus crashed into the rear of a fallen container at 3:30 a.m. Again, speeding and fatigue driving triggered the crash which was exacerbated by the breakdown of a truck on the shoulder of the road.

New towing policy

The government, acting through the NRSA, signed an agreement with the Road Safety Management Services Limited (RSMSL), a private entity, in October 2016 for the towing of breakdown and abandoned vehicles on roads.

The NRSA had announced that effective July 1, 2017, vehicle owners were required to pay a mandatory road safety fee each time they went to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) to renew their roadworthy certificates.


However, that policy was resisted by members of the public for lack of proper engagement. In the circumstance, there is currently no effective way of promptly 

towing disabled vehicles from the road to prevent crashes and fatalities. 

When the Daily Graphic contacted the Director-General of the NRSA, David Osafo Adonteng, on the way forward, he said plans were underway to introduce a comprehensive system for towing breakdown vehicles. 

Mr Adonteng indicated that the revised version of L.I 2180, which would be put before Parliament for approval, had provided three options for the owner of a breakdown vehicle to promptly get it towed from the road. 

“Under the new L.I, owners of disabled vehicles are required to remove the vehicle themselves; subscribe to a towing service such that as soon as the car breaks down, it can be removed by the service provider; or use an insurance service where the insurance company will incorporate towing services into the premium,” he explained.

He added that when vehicle owners failed to use any of the three options, the NRSA would compulsorily remove the breakdown vehicle and surcharge the vehicle owner.

“The NRSA and the police will mandatorily remove the vehicle at a cost to be borne by the owner. We will surcharge them with the cost of removal and if it is kept at a place for protection, you will pay for the cost ,” he stressed.

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