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25.02.2009 General News

Road accidents becoming a menace…. as drivers and passengers take their lives for granted

By Helena Selby ([email protected]) - Ghanaian Chronicle

Life, just like an egg, is precious and if not handled carefully it will break, and can not be mended. It is true that sometimes no matter how careful one is, accidents are bound to happen. Human beings are fallible, just like machines which are made by human beings. It is therefore the obligation of human beings to be careful in the way they handle the machines that they themselves manufacture.

Vehicles are made by man and so they ought to be handled carefully so as to prevent accidents, which is a probability on our roads. No nation is immune to road accidents, but its frequent occurrence is what should occupy our attention. The incidences of road accidents in Ghana increase day in and day out, despite the massive education that has gone around. The strict implementation of traffic regulations and the arrest of offending drivers for breach of road laws would serve as a deterrent to many road users.

Habit of commercial drivers in Ghana
It is very surprising that in the frequent road accident occurrences, the involvement of privately owned vehicles is fewer as compared to commercial vehicles. It is as well rare for one to see vehicles of well organised transport companies like the State Transport Company (STC) involved in frivolous accidents.

Could it be that some of these drivers are more careful than the others with private commercial interests like the Urvan buses and 207 benz buses. Could it also be that their vehicles are not in a better shape or they are not properly trained to drive safely? which are registered under the Ghana Private Roads Transportation Union (G.P.R.T.U) of the Trade Union Congress (TUC)?

It is very pathetic to see how the bad shape of some of the vehicles on our roads is still used to carry passengers to their various destinations. These vehicles could either have a bad battery system, faulty engine, faulty breaks and anything one can think of, as well as seat belts in bad shape and sometimes the seats of passengers have metals exposed in them.

Drivers take passengers for granted and only think about the money they would collect from them. It is a usual occurrence on our roads for drivers to ignore passengers who complain about over speeding, over loading, bad shape of seats and even broken windscreen or a cracked side mirror. If the passenger is not lucky enough, the driver would give to him or her very insulting reply.

Reckless driving is an everyday trend on Ghanaian roads. Due to the rush for more passengers to maximise profit, the drivers prefer to jump traffic lights without the supervision of a policeman. They make U-turns where they are not supposed to.

The significance of seat belts
For some drivers, education on the importance of seat belt use has gone a long way to reduce the casualty numbers involved in accidents. Realizing how important it is to put on seat belts, some drivers always make it a point to put on their seat belt whenever they are on the road.

The seat belts however have their negative effects because as the drivers move at top speed, they feel they are protected by the seat belts and the safety of the passengers is the least of their concern. Instead of giving passenger an alternative of transferring their loads to their destination, they prefer in carrying their entire heavy load on top of the bus. During the later part of last year, on the Tema-Kpone road, a bus fell on its side because it was carrying too much load.

Fortunately, the passengers and the driver were slightly injured. Drivers always have the habit of dodging long traffic queues to the extent that they divert from their section of the road to the other section.

Habits of passengers
It is true that drivers are mostly the cause of road accidents, but passengers ought to be cautioned to learn to value their lives since the behaviour of some passengers can be attributed to accidents on our roads.

A passenger will see a faulty car and just ignore the condition and board it. If a passenger complain about a car being faulty and that it has to be taken from the street, it would contribute to making our roads safe.

A passenger will join an already over crowded bus. It is unbelieving to see a fellow passenger yelling at another because he or she complained about over speeding. The reason is that they are in a hurry. A driver over loads and when he is stopped by a policeman, the passengers will begin to grumble.

Road accidents
The occurrence of road accidents has recently reduced, but a shocking news has just re-surfaced. According to a report of the February 16, 2009 edition of The Chronicle newspaper, 54 people have perished in a fatal accident. According to the report 38 people died in an accident at Kadia, in the Savelugu-Nanton District (61 kilometers north of Tamale) on the Tamale-Bolgatanga road.

Most of the victims had their skulls broken, while others had disfigured faces and mutilated bodies. The accident involved four vehicles. Over 56 other people obtained several injuries. The vehicles involved in the accident included an articulator truck, a 33 seater Benz bus, a 56 DAF bus and a blue bird bus. The accident has being described as the worst to have ever been recorded on the Tamale-Bolgatanga trunk road.

There was another fatal accident on the same road on Sunday February 15, 2009, on the Kintampo-Kumasi road, which saw over 20 passengers dead.

I6 other passenger perished in an accident on the Tema –Akosombo road.

Roads and people
Highways or motorways are roads intended for traveling relatively fast over long distances. Due to the danger and how busy these roads are, it is always advisable for drivers, passengers and pedestrians to be careful when using them.

However, the situation is very different on our side of the world, as people cross motorways as if they are using roads and streets in the communities.

Not long ago a man was hit by a car on the motorway; there was no trace of the car as the incident was a hit and run. At certain points too, long vehicles are left on the streets unattended to, with branches of trees used as warning triangles. Sometimes, vehicles run into such stationery cars with improvised warning triangles.

Police and road accidents
The Police are to ensure the safety of people who use the roads, however, they sometimes treat drivers with kids gloves and allow them to escape lawful punishment. The Police usually check overloading and over speeding which are more visible, but the checking of seats and seat belts, fire extinguisher, side mirror and other small but important things is very rare. The drivers have devised means of 'calming' the Police with some few Cedis. The police ought to check all the necessary things which will help prevent these road accidents.

Road accident as simple as it may sound has great effect on any country's economy. People would soon find it difficult to travel over long distances to transact business. Judging at the rate of the frequency of accidents on our roads, the nation's labour force will gradually decrease.

As the Police are trying their best to help control road accidents, the Driver Vehicle License Authority (DVLA) should also complement the efforts of the Police.