Road Accidents: The Case of Ghana. Causes, Solutions and Lessons for Africa

Published on by Joseph Foray jnr.

The statistics startling. The rate of deaths alarming. Injuries, disabilities and destruction unimaginable. A lot is said and written on this subject of road carnage year in year out. So little is done to tackle the menace head on.  The number one cause of death and injuries on the roads is due to human error which accounts for over 80% of all accidents. Road safety is largely taken for granted in this part of the world. However, it kills more human beings in a year than Malaria and other dangerous ailments.

Vehicles by themselves won’t kill or injure anyone unless a human being sits behind the wheel and start driving it. The safety of motorist and pedestrians should be the priority of the state and all its institutions.  The causes of road accidents are many and this write up will enumerate several of them. The focal point of this paper is how we can reduce human error to its barest minimum. The number one cause of death on the road is driver over speeding. If the personnel behind the wheel is well trained and in the right frame of mind, accidents will be drastically reduced.

What are the causes of over speeding?

  1. Recklessness and Indiscipline on the part of drivers: Speeding increases the risk of accident and death in many instances. There is a high level of disorderliness especially among commercial drivers in the country. Drivers consistently violate speed limits set for certain distances and highways. The road sign for instance may say, drive under 60 Km/hour. Many drivers will be moving at 100 to 120Km/hour. This violation is a sure cause of accidents since drivers may not be able to remedy the situation if anything untoward happens.
  2. Lack of Training and Knowledge of the rules of Driving: A large number of commercial drivers probably more than 80% of them have no formal training as drivers. Yes. They hold drivers’ licenses but have no formal training. Most people learn to drive on their own and later go for a license to give them the legal right to move a vehicle.  Moving a vehicle is the last thing a qualified driver must learn how to do. We have thousands of people who know how to move vehicles but know so little about the rules of driving.
  3. A False sense of supremacy: Drivers want to prove a point that they are champion drivers. They know how to maneuver a vehicle at top speed better than anyone else. And also, they know their vehicles so well that they can afford to drive it at whatever speed they wish. This madness must stop. A car is a machine. Anything can happen with it at any time. The tires can burst and you lose control of the wheel. There is no champion driver. The best drivers are those who can reach their destinations safely without problem and obey the rules accordingly.
  4. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol: This is an unpardonable crime. A driver most be sober at all times and in full control of himself and his mental faculties. Accidents and road crashes are the likely results of driving under the influence of substances.
  5. Driving when tired or sleepy: This is one major cause of road accident generally. Driving tired or sleepy is so dangerous. Avoid driving if you feel tired or sleepy. Take a little rest. Get out of the vehicle and take a walk. Just avoid the wheel when tired or sleepy.
  6. Wanting to reach their destinations too quickly to increase profits: Remember the best drivers are those who reach their passengers safely to their destinations and not those who over speed.

Major rules of driving often over looked by drivers

Since many drivers lack any formal training, they often do not appreciate the number one rule in driving:

  1. Consideration: Consideration is paramount to safety on the road in all instances. Drivers must ask themselves this major question every time intuitively. “What can I do to ensure that other road users are safe on the road”? How can my action or reaction on the road avoid road crashes or accidents?  How can I ensure that other road users are helped to ensure safety on the road? Considering other road users is paramount to ensuring safety on the road.
  2. Anticipation: A driver must always have his concentration on the high. His driving antennae must be very sharp to observe his environment and take the necessary safety measures. One must anticipate what the next driver might do and be ready to respond in a safe manner. Drivers wrongly cross in front of other drivers or do wrongful overtaking in violation of driving ethics.   Pedestrians might also cross the road abruptly or run across the road without correctly gaging the distance from the oncoming vehicle. IF a driver is over speeding, how does he/she correct the situation at that instant? Speeding at that rate gives little or no room to save a situation you could have otherwise save if you drove a little slower.
  3. Physical examination or Maintenance check: Before moving the vehicle, every driver must examine the vehicle before taking off. One needs to go around the vehicle, observe the tires, open the bonnet and do some physical examination of water level, oil gauge and the basics before leaving. It saves a lot of problems it drivers take the maintenance of vehicles seriously. Break failures for instance have cause a lot of deaths and injuries on the roads. This must be taken seriously.

 

Road accident statistics

Road accidents are a national issue in Ghana. Statistics show that four people die daily on Ghanaian roads due to road accident.  Estimates show that Ghana loses over 230 million dollars yearly due to road accidents with more than 1600 deaths. [4] 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 showed that 43% of the fatalities involved pedestrians and 53% involved occupants of vehicles. 23% of all pedestrian fatalities involved children below the age of 16 years. The major cause of road accidents in Ghana is due to over speeding. This accounts for 60% of car crashes in the country.  [1]

Six hundred and ninety-six (696) persons were killed through road accidents in Ghana in the first quarter of 2019. Some reports this year have put number of deaths recorded in the third quarter of the year to one thousand, five-hundred (1,500) people.  This is according to data compiled by the Motor Traffic and Transport Department of the Ghana Police Service. The number represents a 7.57% increase in figures recorded for the first quarter of 2018, which saw 592 commuters and pedestrians killed through road accidents. [2]

 

From January to June 2019, the National Road Safety Commission recorded:

  • 6844 Car Crashes
  • 11167 Vehicles were involved
  • 1,252 Fatalities recorded and
  • 7043 injuries recorded.[3]

 

National road safety commission believes that Road Safety is a shared and collective responsibility.

  • Don't drive tired! Be alert! Stay focused!
  • Wear your seatbelt and crash helmet!
  • Speak up!

One Example of Fatal Road Collision recorded.

On the 22nd of March this year, about 90 were confirmed dead in two separate road crashes in the Bono East and Central Regions of Ghana.

Police confirmed 55 died in the gory head-on collision between two passenger buses on the Kintampo-Techiman road. Fifty-three others were reported seriously injured.

Kintampo Divisional Police Commander, ACP Joseph Antwi Gyawu, told Joy News Bono East Region Correspondent, Anas Sabbit that 35 of the deceased could not be identified.

He said the fatal accident happened around 2 am on Friday at a town called Ampoma in the Bono East Region.

Preliminary investigations reveal the two buses, one with registration number GT 5694 18 and the other GT 3916 17 both had a total of 108 passengers on board.

The survivors have been sent to various health facilities where they are receiving treatment.[4]

The major cause of road accidents in Ghana is due to Excessive speeding.

Other causes of Car Crushes in Ghana

  1. Poorly constructed roads and highways. Most accidents occur on the major highways in between cities and towns. All major highways should be at least dual carriage to reduce the possibility head on collisions. Most roads constructed do not go beyond 3 years and are broken down.
  2. Uncompleted Road Projects causes accidents: Deep pits and potholes left open on roads endanger lives of people. Hips of raw materials such as gravels or sand left on the uncompleted roads lead to accidents.

 

  1. Pot holes causes accidents: Drivers are seen swerving dangerously to avoid potholes. They end up crushing into other vehicles or losing control of the vehicle. City authorities look on adamantly and do nothing about the potholes on the road.

 

  1. No Road signs and Road Markings: The roads must by themselves communicate to road users what’s expected of them. Authorities build roads and leave them unmarked. That’s a recipe for disaster. Road signs that shows speed limits, U-turns, hills and valleys, bridges, pedestrian crossings, road paintings etc., should be clearly demarcated to educate all road users appropriately.

 

  1. Human settlements and businesses too close to the road: While motorist must be mindful of settlements too close to the road side, this ought not to be the norm. Authorities must insist that settlements dangerously close to the road have to be moved to avoid disasters.

 

  1. Lack of street Lights on Highways. Road authorities must wake up from their slumber. The streets must be lighted consistently.  Light bulbs replaced and a safe environment ensured. Lighted streets go a long way to ensure safety in communities from thieves and robbers.

 

  1. Abandoned vehicles left on the shoulders of road: Where visibility is poor or drivers not paying much attention or observing closely, vehicles can crash into abandoned machines left on the shoulders of road. Some of the abandoned vehicles have no indicator signs showing that the area is a danger zone.

How Can we curb the carnage of Accidents, deaths and Injuries on the Roads?

All causes of the menace that have being stated above should be corrected as regards to over speeding and the poor state of the road architecture.

Giving the impact and relevance of safety on the road, the subject of Driving and road safety should be introduced at the basic level of education.

Most children will definitely become drivers in the future so teaching the subject from basic level through high school will completely change the perception of citizens about road safety across board.

Even if students drop out of school or do not continue to the tertiary level and wish to make driving a profession, they would have been given most of the training on what road safety and driving is all about.

This writer also recommends that in the near future before anyone can qualify to drive a commercial vehicle, one must possess at least a basic education certificate. This will ensure that people who have undergone some basic education on road safety and driving are the ones charged to do commercial driving in the country.

Leaving this important job of life safety on the roads in the hands of reckless people is a grave threat to national and economic security.

Don't forget to commit your life in the hands of the almighty God before embarking on any trip no matter the distance.

 

 

 

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Road_Safety_Commission

[2] https://yen.com.gh/127897-ghana-records-696-deaths-road-accidents-2019-quarter.html   

[3] http://www.nrsc.gov.gh/

[4] https://www.myjoyonline.com/news/2019/March-22nd/black-friday-close-to-90-perish-in-2-separate-accidents.php

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