The National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) has announced that with just a few days to close the first quarter of the year, provisional figures it has gathered indicate that about 300 lives have been lost and several injured through road accidents.
This development, according to Mr. Noble John Appiah, Executive Director of NRSC, is extremely disturbing since “every life is important to the extent that it need not be lost through road crashes.”
He therefore extended his sympathies to the affected families and the nation as a whole, as accidents are regarded a national tragedy.
Addressing the media on the spate of road accidents in the country, Mr. Appiah stated that the recent road accidents “epitomize no more than our disregard for rules, regulations and best practices”.
He said most of these accidents could have been avoided but the attitude required to avoid them were not yet conceived, since some drivers had “refused to think and respect the existing regulations and have become undisciplined and irresponsive”.
He noted that a research conducted by NRSC indicated that the causes of some of these road accidents are fatigue, over-speeding, poor visibility at night and dawn, incompetent drivers among others.
Outlining some short-term measures that the Commission had put in place to arrest the situation, Mr. Appiah said: “To address fatigue and high speeds, all long distance vehicles are to introduce vehicle log books to allow for some rest in between journeys.
The Motor Traffic and Transport Unit (MTTU) and the transport unions will help enforce this. To improve vehicle visibility, all commercial vehicles are to fit retro-reflective tapes on designated parts of vehicles; the NRSC and MTTU have given authorization to Rutchen Trucks Ghana, a towing service provider, to clear the roads of disabled and broken down vehicles starting from the Accra-Kumasi Highway to Accra-Takoradi and eventually the entire country. Owners of such vehicles will be surcharged with the cost of the service.”
He continued that “the MTTU of the Ghana Police Service have put in place a strategy to vigorously enforce the traffic regulations, focusing on the crash-prone highways in the interim and nationwide eventually; commercial transport operators are being encouraged to put in place some internal control mechanisms to help avoid these crashes.
To this effect, all transport terminals are to embark on pre-departure checks verifying the state of the vehicles, their tyres, breaks, lights and license of drivers.
They are also to fashion out a strategy to check the alcohol in-take of the driver prior to take-off to ascertain whether or not they exceed the permissible levels.”
Mr. Appiah emphasised that all these measures would become operational on Monday, April 6, 2009.
He also announced that NRSC had put together a framework for the establishment of National Drivers Academy with the view to assuming leadership status in driver training and upgrading of all commercial drivers.
He added that speed limiters would be installed in all commercial vehicles to manage the incidence of speeding and abuse of some traffic regulations.
He disclosed that a survey conducted by NRSC in 2006 to assess the effect of road accidents on the economy of the country indicated that the country loses 1.6 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on accidents, which translates into $165 million yearly.
This is in the form of damaged to property, loss of productive hours, administrative cost and medical bills.
He therefore entreated Ghanaians to be road safety conscious “since we all have a collective responsibility in ensuring safety on our roads.”
By Esther Awuah