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Opinions of Friday, 28 April 2017

Columnist: citifmonline.com

Road safety; a shared and collective responsibility

Undoubtedly, road transport remains the largest and main mode of transportation in Ghana. As a major transport network, it serves an array of purposes for both travelers and industries.

Travelers and industries rely heavily on road to transport people, goods and products from one place to the other.

This suggests more road usage in Ghana, but there are limited alternatives. However, safety on the roads has become a major challenge in the country.

Globally, road safety is being tackled as a public health and developmental issue which Ghana is no exception.

This has attracted the attention of policy makers at all levels of governance. The pressures on these road often results in road traffic crashes.

These road traffic crashes and the casualties pose developmental and public health with challenging militating effects against the socio-economic development especially for low and middle income countries like Ghana.

Owing to this devastating effect, the United Nations (UN), declared a decade of Action for Road Safety with a call on member countries to reduce road traffic crashes by 50 percent by the end of year 2020.

To be able to achieve this, The National Road Safety Commission together with its mother Ministry, Ministry of Transport and other stakeholders are working so hard to make sure that road traffic crushes and injuries are reduced to the minimum levels in accordance with the set target.

The National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) was established by an Act of Parliament (ACT 567) in 1999 with the mandate to develop and promote road safety and coordinate policies in relation to them. Per this mandate, the Commission is to play the role of a lead agency to spear head, collaborate and coordinate among other stakeholders on road safety in the country.

One of the major activities through which the Commission uses to achieve this mandate is the nationwide road safety education through its regional offices.

The importance of road safety education and campaigns cannot be over emphasized. The Commission generally employs road user educational campaigns to help compliment other road safety measures in Ghana. One major sensitization tool mostly deployed by the Commission as part of its advocacy efforts is these campaigns.

In recent past, the Commission has implemented series of campaigns on the “Don’t Drive Tired”, “Avoid Drink Driving”,

“Use of Crash Helmet”, National Pedestrian Safety Campaign dubbed the “Be Alert! Look out for other Road Users” Campaign. The Commission as part of it continues effort is planning to launch a motor cycle related campaign this year to highlight the rising trend of motor cycle related deaths over the last years and the measures to help reverse it. It was in this same direction that the National Easter Road Safety was launched.

In two phases, the first phase was prior to the Easter festivities and in a collaborated effort with the Motor, Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service and the Drivers, Vehicle and Licensing Authority (DVLA), visited transport terminals to interact with the leadership of transport operators to ensure that passengers were safely transported by road to their various destinations during the Easter period.

The main campaign launch took place on the 4th of April this year at Kpong main Lorry Station in the Eastern Region on the theme: “Safety First, Think Safety and Drive Safely”.

This also paved the way for road safety advocates to hit the major roads across the country to advise drivers to minimize their travel speed limits, empower passengers to speak up against driver misconduct and pedestrians to keep to safe walking and crossing practices whilst on the road.

Imperatively, to a large extent the low road crashes cases that were experienced during this Easter Festive season was largely due to the intense work of the Commission and its collaborated agencies and stakeholders.

Also on the other hand, the level of compliance by drivers, passengers and pedestrians on proper road safety regulations and measures must have all largely be contributing factors to the success.

This comes across to buttress the point that the Commission’s work alone cannot ensure success unless the beneficiaries being all road users are actively involved. NRSC campaigns are always motivated by data and packaged to address data-led concerns.

In Ghana, available data suggests that, April and December records the most road traffic crashes. Pedestrians, motorcyclists and passengers account for nearly seventy percentage (70%) of the traffic casualties.

This situation is often the consequences of speeds especially in urbanized environments by drivers, failure by pedestrians to cross and use roads safely and failure of motor riders to yield for pedestrians especially at intersections.

At this back drop, it evident that beyond the advocacy work of the NRSC and it implementing stakeholders, the onus of the work also lies on the drivers, passengers and pedestrians who are generally road users to adhere and submit themselves to the road safety regulations. Largely, the adherence levels of road users determines a reduction in the numbers of road fatalities and their resultant impact on the country as a whole.

This, also buttresses the fact that road safety is a shared and collective responsibility. However, it is a pathetic situation to bemoan when some members of road users see road safety advocacy as something that is outside their interest. Often, they shy away from road activities and programmes directed at ensuring safety on the roads. Most road users lose the fact that they actually own their safety in their hands once on the road.

In Ghana, the second most vulnerable road user class is the passenger. Passenger deaths account for almost 23% of all road traffic deaths in the country.

The reason stems largely from the fact that, passengers often assume passive roles and do not speak up against any wrong doing on the roads largely due to the fear of intimidation and being branded “too known” as said in our local set ups. This situation has led to several avoidable instances. About 90% of causes of road traffic crashes can be attributed to human error.

Negative road user behaviour including speeding, drinking driving and others contributing to indiscipline on our roads. These crashes have a very huge impact on the productive human resources base of the country especially the youth who happen to be the future of the country.

About 60 percent of crash victims are between the productive age bracket of 18-55years. This shows that the more crashes cases we record, the more deadening impact it likely to have on us. Road safety is a collective and shared responsibility and we must all have our hands on deck.

The National Road Safety has its part to play as the lead agency alongside its supporting stakeholders. however, on the other hand, road users also have their parts to play. It must be a conscious attempt working towards a collective goal.

It must be a collective goal and once there is a break within the chain, it affects the level of success. I therefore, urge all road users to take their safety on the road personal.

we all have a duty to ensure that we have a crash free society where road traffic crashes and fatalities will be a thing of the past. Our goal is to eradicate road traffic crashes and injuries by 50% by the year 2020. Let the our goal as road users whether you are a driver, a passenger, a motorist or a pedestrian.