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Opinions of Friday, 1 June 2018

Columnist: Kwame Selom Blege

That important phone call

One can’t tell if it’s the sense of being indispensable or an act of taking for granted what the worst could be while driving or riding and speaking on the mobile phone at the same time.

Since the mobile phone became a necessity rather than a luxury, most people forget that like any other good device it can be a bad servant. I have had the occasion to draw the attention of drivers on whose vehicle I was onboard about driving while making phone calls.

On May 14, 2018, I had a disagreement with a driver who was speaking on the mobile phone while he drove. I was travelling from Nadowli to Wa. The vehicle is a yellow minibus urvan with registration number AS 481-12.

When I drew his attention to the imminent danger which his action posed, he got angry. And his excuse was that he had slowed down and so there was no danger posed. When I said to him that his safety, as well as ours, was of utmost importance, he answered: “my safety is not your concern”. The man is not concerned about his own safety, why would he care about ours, I thought aloud. What a pity!

He then added while he returned to the steering wheel: “do you know the kind of call I was making?” I smiled to myself. How is a phone call more important than your life and that of ours?

His excuse made it look as if slowing down and making a call was a better alternative under the circumstance. This is a highway that is used by heavy duty and long vehicles bound for the border town, Hamile and beyond – your guess about what could happen should an oncoming vehicle lose control is as good as mine.

The driver’s anger only showed that there’s the need for the Ghana Transport Union and its sister transport unions, National Road Safety Commission and the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service to keep up the campaign of ensuring that drivers adhere to safety tips while on the road.

There’re more drivers like this driver who feel that a particular phone call is important and it will be unpardonable not to respond or make it.

Unfortunately, there’s another attitude of most passengers that gives the drivers the impetus to justify their action – a deafening and apathetic silence.

One wonders whether when most people get on a vehicle, they are not concerned about what the drivers do. Most people are apathetic towards speaking their minds and demanding that the right thing is done. There’s nothing to lose when one speaks his or her mind if it has to do with one’s safety.

When passengers are unanimous in speaking against negative attitudes of drivers and go to the extent of reporting these drivers to the police who’re on the road, most accidents will be averted.

No passenger should remain quiet for fear of being seen as too knowing, for a human life can’t be compared to a phone call. A better alternative should be, passengers should suggest to the driver to park and make the call or tell him in no uncertain terms: that important phone call can wait!

No human being is indispensable; whatever phone call that has to be answered or made can’t be more important than any human life, safety is paramount.