The carnage and bloodletting on our roads continue, and, sadly, there seems to be no end in sight to the nightmare.
Day in and day out, Ghanaians are inundated with news reports that are oftentimes accompanied by gruesome photos of horrific accidents and mangled bodies.
Just this past weekend, 20 of our compatriots, our fellow citizens, were killed in two separate accidents in the north. Elsewhere around the country during the same period, other road wrecks claimed a number of innocent lives.
The uptick in accidents is exacting a heavy toll on Ghanaians. Families of victims of the “road kill” are devastated and drained emotionally and physically. But above everything else, they are traumatized beyond description.
The pain of losing a loved one is just unbearable. Those killed in last week’s accidents and in previous other accidents were breadwinners, husbands, wives, sisters and brothers, uncles and aunts.
Ghanaians are frustrated and tired of these man-made disasters, most of which to some extent, could have been prevented. In fact, the number of accidents on our roads is just staggering and hard to comprehend. And the impact on the national economy, besides devastating families, runs into billions of cedis in lost productivity.
Already this year, authorities estimate that 592 Ghanaians lost their lives in road accidents. You can just extrapolate from the grim data and come to a reasonable conclusion that many more Ghanaians are likely to die in road accidents by year’s end.
This is unfortunate and deeply troubling, but raises one fundamental question. How can a nation that never ceases to beat its chest as being the best permit such carnage on its roads?
Well, the blame lies squarely on our shoulders, we the driving public; we are largely responsible for the mounting road accidents despitegovernment’s repeated failure to repair and maintain our roads. Many of the road disasters that claim the lives of thousands of our fellow Ghanaians should never occur in the first place.
Road accidents don’t just happen in a vacuum; they are indeed the consequences of reckless driving, flagrant disregard for road regulations, unsafe and poorly maintained vehicles and lax enforcement of traffic laws. Lets face it; don’t we all routinely disobey common safety rules? That is the crux of the matter.
What then will it take to bring a measure of sanity onto our roads in order to spare Ghanaians untimely deaths? Government intervention is one sure way of solving the problem. The current administration’s quick response to the crisis is laudable.
I, however, wish Nana had empowered the Traffic Enforcement Unit of the Police service to suspend the driving licenses of those caught breaking traffic rules to serve as a deterrent.
But there is only so much government can do. It will take due diligence from the driving public to reduce the number of road accidents. The onus is on us to have a huge attitudinal change, a behavior overhaul.
Our approach to driving must undergo a 360 degrees change. We must all strive to be good drivers, and respectful of other road users, but crucially, we must obey simple traffic regulations, period.
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