NEED TO AVOID SPEEDING ON THE ROADS

About 90 percent of causes of road traffic crashes can be attributed to human errors. These errors are manifested in many negative road user behaviours including speeding, drink driving, talking on mobile phone while driving, wrongful overtaken and other indiscipline driving attitudes on our roads. Speeding remains a major contributory factor to the other related cases of road crashes. There is a slim chance for a vehicle on a top speed to prevent a crash from happening, whereas a driver driving on the normal speed limit can manage to control potential accident or minimize the impact. What then is the required limit to say speed is too much?

The Concise Oxford English Dictionary defined speed as the case of a motorist travelling at a speed greater than the legal limit. The same Dictionary defined speed limit as the maximum speed at which a vehicle may legally travel on a particular stretch of road. The underlined word is legal limit. It means that speeding on our roads has a certain limit which motorists must adhere to. Once a driver exceeds this limit it is considered an offense. If you speed, you are not only breaking the law but putting yourself and others in danger.

Currently road safety is considered a public health issue due to the magnitude of the road traffic casualties across the globe. Statistics available to the National Road Safety Commission, NRSC, show that 38 percent of pedestrian knockdowns, deaths and injuries are as a result of speeding. It also accounts for 17 percent of passenger deaths and injuries, motorcycle related crashes, wrongful over takings, head-on-collisions and tyre burst related crashes.

Many motorists speed because they think their vehicles are fast. Others speed when the roads are smoother and wider while others are simply under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Whenever, there is a crash due to speeding the vehicle transfers the speed to the occupants and if not restrained by a seatbelt, an occupant may be thrown within or outside the vehicle.

From January to April this year, Ghana recorded 4,049 road accidents out of which 708 persons were killed and 3,983 injured. 1,199 were pedestrian knockdowns involving 6,468 vehicles and 1,289 motorcycles. It is estimated that the country loses one point six percent of its GDP each year as a result these casualties. There are approved speed limits at various sections to ensure that every vehicle is within the approved limit when in motion. As contained in the National Speed Limit Law, maximum urban speed limit is 50 kilometers per hour, while maximum rural speed limit is 90 kilometers per hour.100 kilometers per hour is the limit for the Motorway. The question however is, how is the law being enforced?

The NRSC as the lead agency in the road sector charged with the mandate of coordinating all road safety activities is doing well when it comes to campaigns and advocacy. The Commission generally employs road user educational campaigns to help complement other road safety measures. The Commission needs to be louder and visible with its educational campaigns at both the National and Regional levels. The Enforcement Agencies like the MTTD of the Police Service should also be more visible on the roads and ensure greater compliance with speed limit regulations. The Police should adopt a sophisticated ICT based practices together with measures like spot fine and the use of speed cameras to help check the menace.

Also offenders must be prosecuted to serve as deterrent to others. The Ghana Highway Authority, Department of Urban Roads and Department of Feeder Roads must build more speed reduction measures such as signage and markings especially the "zebra" crossings. More footbridges should be constructed on major highways in cities and towns. The media must also intensify reportage on road safety issues to create greater awareness. All hands must be on deck to ensure that the country wins the fight against speeding on our roads.

We need to kill the speed before it kills us. Save Lives, Reduce the speed. Your family needs you. The nation needs you.

Stay Alive! Arrive Alive!

BY SAMUEL OWUSU-YEBOAH, A COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER WITH THE NATIONAL ROAD SAFETY COMMISSION.

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