Before we as a nation can confront the principalities of road accidents in the country it is equally important that we look at the causes of accidents. Experts inform us that there are four main causes of road accidents in this country namely: human i.e. the driver, passenger and pedestrian; vehicle – its condition and maintenance; environmental/weather; road factors.
According Dr. Lawrence Edusei, pathologist, Department of Pathology, Korle-bu Teaching Hospital, most drivers contain high percentages of blood alcohol (ranging from 300-383/100ml) which is far above the accepted level of 2.43/100ml and is enough to cause accident.
Another school of thought also argues that bad tyres can also cause road accidents. This brings the issue of used or second hand tyres from Europe or US. The question which we should ask ourselves is that what caused the European or American user to throw away his tyres and get a new one? Yet we rush to import them as second hand and fix it on our cars. From now onwards the Ghana Standard Board should inspect the importation of used tyres into the country and those which are found not to be in a good shape be destroyed. Let us not be importing death into our country. What is bad for the European should also be bad to the African!
Any proper crusade against road accidents should be two pronged affairs. We should start at prevention. We are told that prevention is always better than cure. No matter how sophisticated the road safety campaign develops we cannot eliminate road accidents from our roads however a sustained road safety measures can cause road accidents to subside.
There should be a proper education especially before one can secure a driving license. When you begin deal with this you ask question about the driving schools we have in the country. 'who sets the curriculum?” or “how long should a training last for someone who wants to secure a license?” or “what should be the qualification of an instructor at a driving school?” These are the questions that ought to be asked. Even the way secure driving license in the country is not perfect. It is like the Ghanaian passport which many non-Ghanaians are possessing it just to commit an offence to mar the nation's image. There are some people who have never sat before the wheels before but because they can pay “connection” price for the license they have it. What is the implication of this? When this happens we leave all road users expose to the hazards of inexperienced drivers. The Vehicle Examination and Licensing Department must be wake up.
Another thing that we can talk about is the unworthiness of some cars on our roads. Recently TV 3 showed on its screen that most of the vehicles in Central Region are not road worthy. Yet they have an unexpired VELD and National Insurance Commission sticker firmly glued to their windscreens. Beyond this, a car which the engineer after doing its calculation decided that the car should be of four seats. Just because the owner of the car wants money he takes the car to the garage or (fitting shop) for them to add one roll of seat to it. One thing that we must know that every car has its maximum load and tensile strength. Once we exceed this the center of gravity of the car is displaced causing the car not to be stable on the road. We must come to see that the every car is not either four roll seater or five roll seater to by cosmetics. They are there by purpose and by design. What are our engineers saying about this? Should we have to allow car owners to be extending their seats at the expense of the passengers and other road users? I believe that the VELD needs engineers from the KNUST who will able to say that this car can be extended or not. Whilst we wait for the KNUST engineers to come to say something the law should forbid such extension.
MTTU statistics also informs us that most accidents are caused by broken vehicles on our roads. This is common on our highways. What can we do? We have succeeded in towing taxis and other small cars in the city which does not even pose more hazards than tipper cars on our highways. People used to say that laws in this country are like cobwebs it can only attract insects and other small animals but not the bigger ones.
Part of the road funds should be used to buy heavy duty towing cars for our roads. At least for every fifty miles on our highways there must be heavy duty towing car to tow every car that get stuck on the road because of mechanical fault or accident. Since all road users are contributors to road fund in advance towing of cars on our highways should be free.
The time has come for us to use the road fund to serve the road users and transform our roads from highways of deaths and disaster to a haven of tranquility.
The MTTU should be arresting those driving under the influence of alcohol. The court should also fast track the prosecution of such offenders. To this end part of the road fund should be used to secure alcometers for the MTTU. Education of pedestrians to adopt the right road safety attitudes can also not be glossed over.
Owing to the socio-economic impacts that road traffic accidents generate, it deserves to be given political priority and commitment. Unfortunately in Ghana there is lack of political will to make interventions and support road safety campaigns. Examples from developed countries like the United States, Japan and Finland, where the personal commitment and interest of their heads of state in the maintenance of sanity on the roads has culminated in a drastic decrease in road accidents and also the adherence to road regulations. In Ghana, wearing of seat belts is yet to become mandatory, yet a lot more people are dying through accidents when seat belts could have saved them. Appiah Kusi Adomako is an educationist, freelance writer and the president of the Ghana Chapter of Leaders of Tomorrow Foundation. He can be contacted through: Leaders of Tomorrow Foundation, P.O. BOX. KS 13640. Kumasi. Tel 027-740-2467 Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.