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. 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. Road traffic crashes and the associated casualties undermine socio-economic development especially in 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 2020. To achieve this, the National Road Safety Commission and other stakeholders are working hard to ensure that road traffic crashes and injuries are reduced to minimum levels in accordance with the set target.
The National Road Safety Commission was established by an Act of Parliament in 1999 to play the role of a lead agency to spearhead, collaborate and coordinate other stakeholders on road safety issues in the country. One of the major activities through which the Commission uses to achieve this mandate is the nationwide road safety education. The Commission generally employs road user educational campaigns to help compliment other road safety measures. In recent past, the Commission has implemented series of campaigns with slogans like "Don't Drive Tired", "Avoid Drink Driving", "Use of Crash Helmet", "Be Alert! Look out for other Road Users." The Commission is also focusing on motor cycle safety issues to highlight the rising trend of motor cycle related deaths and the measures to help reverse it.
During this year's Easter festivities, the Commission launched a campaign dubbed "Safety First, Think Safety and Drive Safely". This also paved the way for road safety advocates to hit the major roads to advise drivers to minimize their speed limits, empower passengers to speak up against driver misconduct and pedestrians to keep to safe walking and crossing practices In all these, it is important to stress that the Commission's work alone cannot ensure success unless all road users are actively involved. In Ghana, available data suggests that, Pedestrians, motorcyclists and passengers account for nearly seventy percentages 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 stop for pedestrians especially at intersections.
It is evident that beyond the advocacy work of the NRSC and its implementing stakeholders, the onus also lies on the drivers, passengers and pedestrians to adhere to the road safety regulations. It is unfortunate that most road users tend to forget 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 we say in our local parlance. 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 contribute 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 brackets of 18 to 55years. This shows that the more crashes cases we record, the more deadening the 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, 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. The goal is to eradicate road traffic crashes and injuries by 50% by the year 2020. Let our goal as road users whether as a driver, a passenger, a motorist or a pedestrian ensure that as road users we arrive alive!
By: Samuel Owusu-Yeboah, Information Officer, NRSC communications Unit. Contact: 0244672101.