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23.11.2005 General News

Major causes of road accident are preventable - Panellists

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Accra, Nov. 23, GNA - Speakers at a day's seminar on Road Traffic Accidents on Thursday noted that fatigue, drunk-driving and speeding, which were some of the major causes of accidents, were preventable and said if measures to check accidents were strictly implemented they could stem the tide.

They said the loss of lives and property and sustenance of injuries contributed to the country's low productivity and reiterated the need for all hands to be on deck to help to eliminate the menace. The seminar organised by the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons was aimed at bringing together stakeholders in the road traffic sector to bring to the fore challenges and measures to enable the members of the College to encourage government, the legislature and implementing bodies to help to stem the tide of accidents. In a speech read on behalf of Roads Transport Minister, Richard Anane, he said, the National Road Safety Strategy and Action Plan for the period 2001-2005 was aimed at breaking the trend in road accidents within the period and creating a basis for concrete and sustainable accident reduction towards 2010 with a target of five per cent reduction by the end of 2005.

The Ministry in collaboration with stakeholders was seriously tackling road safety issues through education, enforcement of traffic regulations, engineering through the identification and improvement of hazardous spots and first aid training programmes for drivers and their assistants, Dr Anane said.

He said there had been a steady reduction in accidents per 10,000 vehicles from a high of 160 in the 1980s to 31 in 2001; 27.2 in 2002 and 26.7 in 2003 and 23.6 in 2004.

He noted that from January to September this year the total number of road accidents reduced by eight per cent over the same period in 2004. Total number of road accident fatalities reduced by 15 per cent while the total number of persons injured declined by 14 per cent over the same period in 2004.

Dr Anane said Act 683 of 2004, which replaced the old Road Traffic Ordinance of 1952, provided among other things the mandatory wearing of seatbelts, child restraint and the installation of speed limiters in public service vehicles to stem the tide of the problem. The Ministry, he said, had also over the years worked in collaboration with the Building and Road Research Institute (BRRI) to compile accurate and reliable data to guide decisions and interventions to reduce the menace and mentioned the safety of pedestrians with focus on school children that constituted 23 per cent of pedestrian fatalities as one of the interventions.

The programme dubbed "Safe Walk From School" was instituted in Accra, Kumasi and Takoradi to ensure the safety of school children to and from school.

Another intervention to reduce the spate of accidents was the need to develop the second carriageway of the three highways from Accra to Kumasi, Cape Coast and Aflao where 70 per cent of accidents occurred, he said.

Dr Godfried Asiamah, Deputy Director of Police Medical Service, who presented a paper on: "The Epidemiology of Road Traffic Accidents" said a Roadside Survey conducted by his outfit indicated that one out five drivers on the highway in Ghana drove under the influence of alcohol. He said the prevalence rate of drunk driving in developing countries was 6.1 per cent compared to 2.4 in the developed countries.

He called for anti-drunk driving measures as a component of road safety efforts, an education campaign to target literate, middle aged and commercial drivers while legislation and enforcement should be at par with those of the developed countries.

Mr Joe Osei-Wusu, Chief Executive Officer of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) said written theory tests with a pass mark of 70 per cent, identification and interpretation of road signs and markings, car owner identification, reorganisation of records and standards were some of the measures put in place to regulate in-traffic testing and vehicle inspection and registration.

He said the DVLA's testing equipment were not adequate to cover work to be done and announced that some private garages would be mandated to undertake vehicle testing for road worthiness by the end of the second quarter of 2006.

Applicants not undertaking traffic tests; issuance of road worth certificates to untested vehicles and the activities of "goro boys" who hang around the DVLA premises and offer fictitious documents to applicants, who refused to queue and wait patiently to be served were some of challenges facing the DVLA.

Mr Osei-Wusu said major structural changes were ongoing to render the "goro boys" redundant and streamline affairs of the Authority. A Road Safety Consultant, Mr Ekow Wilson-Asaam, who presented a paper on: "Tyres and Our Lives" noted that tyres were only one component of the vehicle but it was important that a lot of emphasis was placed on the right selection, use, care and in line with road safety practices. He said apart from brakes, which were the main mechanical safety devices on the vehicle, the tyre was the next component but was often the most abused component.

Only tyres come into contact with the road surface and assist in maintaining or changing direction of travel and absorbing road shocks, he emphasised. 23 Nov. 05

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