Japheth Jeffrey K. Appiah writes …
LIFE IS PRECIOUS. TOGETHER, WE CAN HELP REDUCE THE RATE OF ROAD CRASH
Road is the commonest means of transportation in Ghana as compared to other means such as air, rail and water transport. Despite the happiness and change of quality of family lives associated with owning a vehicle, its possession has made so many families bereaved of their breadwinners or love ones due to unprecedented rate of road traffic accidents.
An accident is defined in the Encarta English dictionary as “a crash” (an incident involving a moving vehicle that results in property damage, personal injury or death)
Road accident is a global tragedy with ever rising trend and it is identified as one of the major causes of deaths in the country. It is rather unfortunate that a lot of human resources in Ghana are lost through this means. They are common faire in our daily news as we see these accidents happening almost every day. It is rather unfortunate that a lot of our human resources as Ghanaians are lost through road accidents.
According to the statistical record, five hundred and twenty people (520) died in road crashes in 3,512 accidents nationwide in the first quarter of 2014.
In addition 3,301 people sustained various degrees of injuries in the process. According to statistics from the National Road Safety Commission, the Greater Accra Region recorded the highest number of accidents with 1,336 while the Upper East Region recorded the lowest with 35 cases. (Appiah, S. May 2014). Publication Research. Published in General news; Graphic online.)
Statistics show that four people die daily on Ghanaian roads due to road accidents with more than 1,600 deaths. The loss correlates to 1.7% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. The National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) announced in 2010 that there were 19 fatalities per 10,000 vehicles in Ghana. Statistics shows that, 43% of the fatalities involved pedestrians and 53% involved occupants of vehicles. 23% of all pedestrian fatalities involved children below the ages of 16 years. The major cause of road accidents in Ghana is due to human factor such as speeding. Some other causes include overloading, driver fatigue and many more.
The unpleasant part of it all is that most of the people who are killed by road accidents are those individuals within the age group of which it constitute the work force of the country.
Road accidents cost the world an amount of US$518 billion annually. It is estimated that if nothing is done globally to curtail the rampant nature of road accidents and most especially the causes of deaths or casualties before they are sent to hospitals, then by the year 2020, 1.9 million people will be killed by road accidents in the world, (World Health Organization, 2011).
CAUSES OF ROAD CRASH OR ACCIDENT
There are so many definite causes of road accidents in Ghana which spin to diminish a growing population. Some of these causes will be highlighted into three categories. These are human factors, mechanical factors and environmental factors.
The majority of road crashes in the country are caused by human error. Research has shown that, driver error accounts for over 80 % of all fatal and injuries crashes on most of our roads.
The main causes of death and injuries on our roads remain over speeding, improper training, attitude of some passengers, behaviour of pedestrians, unprofessional mechanics, unprofessional behaviour of some Police Officers, overloading of vehicles and many more.
It is recorded that most of the accidents that occur on our roads are due to speeding of vehicles. This attitude of drivers or motorist exceeding the posted speed limit endangers the lives of pedestrians and hence, the absence of caution can create an accident.
Mostly, drivers do not slow down when the need arises and they go above 50 km in towns and villages. In addition to that, they do not slow down when negotiating a curve and then causing panic among pedestrians.
One cannot discuss causes of road accident without mentioning lack of proper training of drivers. Most of the drivers who ply the various roads in the country do not really enrol themselves in proper driving schools or seek assistance from the right institutions. This deviant attitude do not enable drivers gain an in-depth practical and knowledgeable skills about driving. Such people (drivers) abuse road usage, thus, violating traffic regulations. Others too may ignore, which may cause carnage on our roads. In addition to the above, some drivers express signs of lassitude which they intend to ignore. They sleep behind the steering wheel and are unable to control themselves. Discounting lives and properties in the car, they run into any obstacle and terminate innocent souls.
Attitude of some passengers
The role of passengers also contributes to the causes of road accident. The bad attitude of passengers engaging drivers at certain point unusually, conversation, sometimes gears off the attention of the driver and hence collision can occur. The attitude of asking the driver to speed and frustrate him with series of insults and argument may or can cause an accident.
Behaviour of pedestrians
Pedestrians are also part of the factors to be considered when accidents occur. At most cases, major streets have been provided with pedestrian’s walkways and over-head bridges; yet some individuals prefer to walk on the main street. In a driver’s bid to avoid running over these pedestrians, an accident may occur; “all things being equal”.
The attitude of some individual mechanics that have little or no knowledge about car maintenance and repair can partially be blamed or considered as part of the causes of road accident. These unprofessional activities by mechanics that repair and maintain vehicles in this country leave much to be desired. Some of these mechanics do not seek formal training and yet they claim to be professionals and do not work to world’s standard. Their activities are not governed by any formal training or whatsoever and these groups of unprofessional mechanics are not duly checked and certified by the appropriate institutions or bodies. The cars fixed by these unprofessional mechanics may generate faults whiles driving and may cause an accident. To add up, the fixing of artificial seats in cargo cars that have been turned into passenger buses in Ghana is one of the major contributing factors. For instance, a popular vehicle in Ghana called “207” has claimed more lives than expected. These cars easily generate faults whiles driving. The technical skills needed to identify the required tools for fixing operations of problems of these cars are void. In Ghana for instance, most of the two known place responsible for assembling and fixing of cars are Suame Magazine in Kumasi and Abossey Okai in Accra. In as much as these groups are contributing to national development, their profession and activities must be constantly checked by the right institutions.
Overloading of vehicles
Most drivers of heavy trucks and passenger vehicles overlook the weight and carriage limits of their trucks. These cars are packed heavily to the extent of exceeding the actual weight limit. These cars break down on the highways, leaving the safeness of road users.
This is also considered as one of the ways of causing accidents on our roads. Brakes failure, tyre burst, wipers, head light and tail light, steering and broken down vehicles on the road without adequate warning signs are all possible mechanical factors which accounts for the increasing rate of road accidents.
Bad breaks are one of the most serious and common mechanical failures that causes car accidents. Brake pads wear down over time, and some drivers wait far too long to replace them. There are also many reports of leaking brake fluid lines and malfunctioning ABS systems that cause breaks to fail. If a driver cannot stop a moving vehicle safely, it won’t be long until an accident ensues.
Tyre blowouts or even worn tyres are also a common “mechanical” failure on a car. Tyres are meant to provide proper traction for cornering and to keep ones car on the road. When tread gets worn down, or tyres lack adequate inflation, they lose their ability to hold the road properly. Especially when road conditions are questionable; for instance rain.
Rainy and dust winds conditions make driving much more difficult, and it is important that you have properly working windshield wipers. If the motors controlling a car’s wipers malfunction in the middle of driving through a rain or dust wind, a driver can lose visibility quite fast, and accidents can result. It can happen almost instantaneously, and if the driver is in the middle of moving at a fast speed, the likelihood of an accident can be quite high.
Head Lights and Tail Lights
A much higher percentage of accidents happen at night than during the day, when visibility is down, and drivers depend on lights to help them see. If a vehicle has dim or broken headlights, tail lights, brake lights or blinkers, it can be very hard for a driver to see. If a driver’s tail lights or brake lights are out, it’s not too hard to imagine a rear ending either at night or in the day time. If a blinker is not working properly, and a driver makes a turn, other drivers might not see and collisions can happen. It’s important to make a visual inspection of all lights at least once a week to be safe.
Failed steering systems are also a major cause of automobile accidents. There are so many components that make up a car’s steering system and they are all prone to fail. Mechanical failure in steering linkages, ball joints, tie rods and power steering fluid lines can lead to accidents. If a driver loses control of a steering, the vehicle can capsize and accident occurs.
This is due to the fact that, accident occurs by way of natural phenomenon. Most of the accidents that occur duly happen at certain period of the year. One example of the environmental factors includes poor weather condition.
An accident may occur because of the unfavourable weather condition at a particular period. Some example of the unfavourable weather condition which may result in an accident is rainfall and fog. Heavy down pour of rains enable drivers not to have easy access to road usage. Floods engulf the street by way of these heavy down pour and thus, making movement of vehicles and other automobiles difficult. Roads also become slippery and are not easily access by all road users. The least error committed results into road crash. Fog is another poor weather condition that causes accident. Mostly drivers are unable to see ahead of them because of heavy fog which comes by way of vapour in the atmosphere. This fog increases the poor visibility of the drivers and then causing accidents.
EFFECTS OF ROAD CRASH
The consequences of road accidents are anti-development, loss of properties and lives, and many others.
One of the effects of road crash is the creation of orphans and single parenting. Some children become victims of orphans and single parenting and hence, are left with nobody to whom they are catered for. These intend increase in the number of dependents on families and government. Some of these children who may not have proper care may forcefully become victims of social vices such as teenage pregnancy, school dropped-out, youth crimes, drug addicts and mental break down.
Secondly, road accident may reduce the developmental progress of a country. This is because most of the country’s resources are channelled into the avenue of campaign against road crash, securing future occurrences, construction of broken traffic and street lights and many more. Funds and resources that could help build the developmental status of a country like schools, portable drinking water, hospitals, creation of jobs and many more are all drained out due to road crash.
Furthermore, road crash reduces the country’s energetic human resources. The actual labour force of the country is reduced by means of road crash. For instance, Road accidents have become a thorn in the flesh of Ghanaians. Despite increased road safety campaigns, the rate at which accidents occur on our roads is very alarming. The passing away of Bishop Kwadwo Owusu and Ferdinand Ayim are critical cases in this point. Some honourable members of our August Parliament House such as Osei Kwaku and John Achuliwor and others suddenly departed due to motor accidents. Ghanaian celebrities such as Suzzy Williams, Terry Bonchaka and Kwame Owusu Ansah and the likes, who died in motor accidents, have indeed left a great vacuum in the Ghanaian Film and Music Industry. The death of the three medical neurologists at Bunsu Junction on the Accra-Kumasi motor road and in fact countless similar reported cases are still fresh in our memory. Media reports reveal that President Kuffour’s convoy had had at least 3 serious accidents since he assumed office in 2001. About six (6) security officers died in these accidents.
Many are those that could help build the development process of the country but unfortunately they are resting in the belly of the ground.
Pain and grieve endured in the eyes of people whose relatives, friends, and colleagues have died through road crash. These intend affect such people for ages psychologically and emotionally.
In as much as we believe that road accident is inevitable to society, globally, it has a great worry to the country as a result so many dynamics like human factors, mechanical factors, and environmental factors. If we are to combat this dangerous life threatening behaviour, we must increase resources to enforce laws in the country by assessing the highways. And secondly, we must support technological advances such as video cameras to target aggressive speeding drivers. Hefty fines for over-speeding always serve as deterrence to motorists.
Rules and Regulations
One of the first remedy required critical scrutiny is the laxity in our law enforcement. It is noted that, human error accounts for about eighty percent 80% of our road accidents but these could largely be solved by law enforcement. The Police official’s visibility must be strengthened in order to prevent drivers whose vehicles are faulty but are seen on roads. Drivers must enrol in driving schools and seek support from appropriate institutions in order to broaden their scope of proper road usage and techniques and also, gain an in-depth thoughtful of road use application. Institutions like the Drivers and Vehicle Licencing Authority (D.V.L.A) should be properly checked and measures should be put in place to prevent people from acquiring the drivers licence through illegal means. In addition to that, the use of mobile phone while driving must be sanctioned by Road Safety Commission. Drivers are required to have adequate rest, eschew (avoid) drugs and alcohol and fasten their belts before embarking on a long journey.
Road Users Guide Training
Acquiring knowledge and securing a better driving skills and attitude of observing road regulation through education is another way of fighting against road crash. Both drivers and pedestrians are required to broaden their understanding of traffic regulations. This can be achieved through education. Drivers must be educated that, it is advisable to break after driving for four (4) hours in order to avoid fatigue. In as much as accident is inevitable, measures must be taken to minimize the effects. The Road Safety Commission should introduced programmes in health management education for the various segments of the society ranging from post primary to tertiary and National Union of Drivers on how to render First Aids to accident victims. Every driver is supposed to have a First Aid kits in the vehicle.
Hospitals on their part, whether public or private, should not reject accident patients whenever they are being rushed in.
Road engineering is considered as one of the measures or remedies of reducing or minimizing road accidents in Ghana. Road engineering can be referred to as the repairers and maintenance of bad roads networks, road potholes, slippery roads, wrong sited speed ramps, wrong bends or curvature of roads. All these errors on our roads are part of the contributing factors of accidents, hence when these are attended to by institutions that are responsible for action performance, then the total number of accident occurrence will be reduced.
Speed checks by authorities and institutions such as the Ghana Police Service, the Motto Traffic and Transport Unit (MTTU) can reduce or minimize the occurrence of road accidents. This can be achieved by identifying speeding vehicles on the roads and thus, arresting them (drivers). The installation of video cameras to capture fast speeding vehicles and the regular checks of drivers drinking and usage of hard drugs substance will be an interest to the country.
The writer is a Broadcast Journalist and a Blogger with jeffreykaynews.
Views expressed here solely remain his opinion.
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