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Opinions of Thursday, 27 January 2011

Columnist: Baafi, Alex Bossman

Curbing Accidents on Our Roads

Alex Bossman Baafi



I read the news to my utmost shock and dismay that 123 lives were lost through 539 road accidents in this month of January 2011 alone. The report had it that 518 people suffered varying degrees of injuries with a total number of 764 vehicles involved. If in less than a month the nation could suffer such a huge loss of lives then we need to sit up as a nation. I know that accident can occur through the condition either of the vehicle, the driver or the road or a combination of two or all of them.



To curb accidents on our roads, we must first examine the process of acquisition or the issuance of driving licenses by the Driver and Licensing Vehicles Authority (DVLA). Here I suggest that Defensive Driving Course or training must be made a prerequisite requirement in addition to the practical driving test to ensure that drivers are well trained before they are issued with the necessary licenses. Stringent efforts must be made by the DVLA to purge its staff of all corrupt officers who take bribes to certify unqualified would be drivers thereby enabling them acquire various category of licenses.



Through the defensive driving training, drivers will know that as drivers, they are required to drive to save lives, time, money and properties in spite of the conditions around them and the actions of others. In doing so, the Driving Skills required of them which include the knowledge and applications of the rules of the road, effective sharing of the road with other road users, observing the various road signs and signals, using driving mirrors, paying attention and maintaining the two-second rule must be brought to the fore.



The Physical Skills of switching on and off the vehicle, gear changing or transmission, pedals depression for acceleration including clutch modulation, steering, ancillary devices and adjustments of seat and seatbelts and the significance of each should be carefully explained to the drivers and emphasized during road practicals or what is commonly called Driving Test in the country.



The course should also highlight the importance of Mental Skills. These include the ability to successfully handle an emergency, good decisions based on road and traffic conditions, evasive maneuvering, proper hand placement and seating position, skid control, steering and brake controls as well as understanding their vehicle dynamics. Here, care must be taken to explain the consequences of Mental Skills Compromises such as making and receiving calls and text messages, changing compact disc and radio stations, getting fatigue, eating, side attractions and taking alcohol or drugs whilst driving. In my view, if this classroom exercise is made mandatory as part of the process of acquiring driving licenses in the country by the DVLA if even it will swell the fees, it will go a long way to reduce the carnage on our roads.



I have also observed with keen interest that most of our roads in the country are not marked. Road markings are very vital as it helps to improve road conditions at all times especially during nights and rainy periods. Take the motorway for example, apart the shoddy repair work that is carried out from time to time, the, the roads are not marked but nobody cares. It makes driving on the motorway at night and rainy periods very difficult. I know absence of markings on our roads hamper effective usage nationwide so our road contractors and authorities should take note of that.



With particular reference to the motorway, I am also bringing to the attention of the authorities concern to restore the dysfunctional streetlights. Such a move will enable drivers to avoid unnecessary usage of high lights during the night that could also go a long way to reduce accidents on the motorway.



In addition to the above, enforcing the Road safety Regulations, educating the drivers to cultivate periodic maintenance culture and undertaking constant Road Safety Campaigns will help a lot. Finally, the government must justify the exorbitant increase in Road & Bridge Tolls it imposed on the good people of this country in February 2009 by investing in our roads to ensure that this unacceptable carnage on our roads will reduce to the barest minimum.



Email: abkbossman@yahoo.co.uk