The National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) on Monday launched a week-long activities aimed at awareness creation of the high rate of deaths resulting from road traffic accidents and also promote the use of safety measures through law enforcement.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that road traffic accidents account for over 1.2 million deaths and some 50 million people being injured every year around the world. In Ghana not less than 1,700 people die each year, out of which 40 per cent are children below 18 years.
Cliff Johnson Aboagye, Chairman of the NRSC, at the launch of the first UN Global Road Safety week on Monday, said the campaign was targeted at the youth who were vulnerable to road traffic accidents.
The week-long campaign, which was under the theme: "Improving Road Safety for Young Road Users," would have programmes including floats, car free days for car users, TV and radio discussions and education on the use of seat belts and crash helmets.
Mr Aboagye urged the public as well as government officials to participate in the car free day programme on Tuesday April 24, to enable them to appreciate the challenges faced by public and non-motorized transport users.
He said if the rate of accidents was not checked the lives of more youths would be wasted leading to lower productivity and a great burden on the nation's resources.
Mr. Aboagye called for political commitment towards ensuring law enforcement, citing the review of a law banning the importation of over-aged vehicles.
He said the introduction of the Road Safety Act (Act 683) and the Motor Court had done Ghana a lot of good and urged the Police Administration to intensify its activities in enforcing the use of seat belts and child restraints by vehicles and crash helmets by motorists to help save the numerous lives lost annually through such accidents.
Albert Kan-Dapaah, Minister of the Interior, said the high rate of child accidents were unacceptable and could no longer be tolerated.
He attributed some of the causes of such accidents to negligence on the part of both pedestrians and drivers. He also blamed vehicle owners for poor maintenance habits, drunkenness, driver fatigue, over-aged vehicles as well as gross indiscipline by most drivers.
He called on the police and other law enforcement agencies to support the NRSC to arrest and prosecute recalcitrant drivers who refused to adhere to road traffic regulations to serve as a deterrent to others.
Felix Owusu-Agyepong, Acting Minister of Transportation, said the first UN Road safety week was a historic opportunity during which policy makers, international organisations, corporate and non-governmental organisations would be expected to raise and discuss the issue of road traffic injuries to a higher level, initiate and demonstrate a new sense of direction and commitment towards ensuring safer roads for countries.
He noted that while the week focused on the improvement of safety for children and young people, the actions resulting from the week, such as initiatives to reduce drink driving and speeding, would benefit road users of all ages.