Automobiles are so designed to serve as a means of transportation but could also be dangerous and unsafe (particularly, with regards to accident or pedestrian knockdown) at any speed. Therefore, any reasonable being with even the least of safety consciousness should never downplay the essence of avoiding contact or crash in any form with an automobile.
Considering the vulnerability of man and the devastating effects of injuries, maiming, trauma and deaths – automobiles could bring to mankind with evidence from statistics, pictures from accident scenes and in spite of available law which cautions drivers to give preference to pedestrians, the Ghanaian driver is still intolerant and almost always angry at pedestrians. It is a near path when British novelist, L. P. Hartley (1895 – 1972) wrote, that “Motorists (drivers of cars) were utterly irresponsible in their dealings with each other and with the pedestrian public; for their benefit, homicide was legalised” (Microsoft Encarta 2009). With these, one may wonder how “people who are of age” could still entertain and welcome irrational risk on the road! Our naïve, unqualified attitudes and blatant disregard and misapplication of road safety education and knowledge as pedestrians from electronic and print media reportage such as those I have compiled below inform me that, in fact, we are “the wise group of people who lack common sense on the road” or simply put “the wise who lacks common road sense”.
Merriam Webster Dictionary defines Common Sense as a “Sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts”. In other words, the one who disregards or refuses to apply any knowledge or education of sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the road situation or facts may be described as the wise who lacks common road sense. Per the definition let's ask these thoughtful questions:
• How sound, are the minds of the people who cross the road where an overhead crossing is constructed, without using it?
• What prudent judgment do they make by choosing to cross the road irresponsibly?
• How is their perception towards road safety?
• Are they able to examine the road situation well before crossing at the illegal places?
• Are they ignorant of the facts of pedestrian knockdown statistics of those roads?
When we are all able to apply common sense on the road, pedestrian collisions, like other road traffic crashes happening on Malam-Kasoa road, Adentan-Madina road among other places in Ghana, killing many people should not be accepted as inevitable because they are in fact, both predictable and preventable. The deaths on the roads in these places, led to agitations with those within these communities fiercely demonstrating and compelling government and associate authorities to complete various overhead footbridge constructions, only for these same people to forsake the use of such overhead footbridges. It is better to be safe than sorry. The law states that, “A pedestrian who jaywalks or ignores a traffic light signal commits an offence” and its accompanied punishment is that “A person who contravenes this regulation commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not more than five penalty units or to a term of imprisonment of not more than seven days or to both” (Road Traffic Regulations, 2012 (L.I. 2180), regulation 154 sub-regulation (10 page 108).
By all relevant criteria, a problem so national in scope and burdensome in nature can best be handled by the legislative process. One of the principal means to prevent indiscipline on the road is ensuring the enforcement of the law. It cannot be denied that human laws vested in the police force and judicial systems provide a powerful deterrent to evil and acts of indiscipline, they are necessary. Arguably, there is much evil in the minds of mankind to such an extent that it will not be deterred only by reason or education but also through an application of restrained force!
Aeschylus stated that “Obedience is the mother of success and the wife of safety” (Greek tragedian and dramatist, Microsoft Encarta 2009). How obedient are our brothers and sisters when the laws of Ghana have it stipulated that, “A pedestrian who fails to use footbridge or an underpass where one is provided, commits an offence.” And its associated penalty which follows as “A person who contravenes this regulation commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not more than five penalty units or to a term of imprisonment of not more than seven days or to both” (Road Traffic Regulations, 2012 (L.I. 2180), regulation 154 sub-regulation (10 page 108).
Thus, the impact of these regulations falls primarily on the pedestrian, who has to exercise his or her Road Sense as the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, 9th edition, defines as “The ability to behave in a safe way when driving, walking, etc. on roads”, (page 1341). The legislative purpose is directed to accident prevention and only peripherally to implementing standards that might prevent injuries and deaths to pedestrians. It is as well my sincere appeal that pedestrians should be educative enough through this piece and hope that the content of this article would be carefully studied in the spirit of tolerance and consideration, and provoke every road user to refrain from using the road shamefully and irresponsibly to make our roads safe for all. Wisdom is commonly said to be the application of knowledge. In fact, it is quite disgraceful and imprudent to be arrested for not using an overhead footbridge to cross road safely as reported by Ghanaian Times, Friday July 26, 2019, so let's be wise in exercising sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the road situations such as the use of, overhead footbridges where available to cross roads, or risk the fact, that we could get killed and our data be added to statistics if we simply do not apply road sense.
Michael Osei Owusu
(Transport and Road Safety Consultant)
Email: [email protected]
Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."