The high rate of accidents in this country does not do any good to our efforts at eradicating poverty. It is not the best for a nation that, according to the Government Chief Statistician, has just entered the exclusive club of Middle Income earners.
The destruction of life and property that accompany the high rate of accidents slows down production, and deprives many families of bread winners. According to Assistant Commissioner of Police Victor Tandoh (rtd), Volta Regional Manager of the Road Safety Commission, as many as 1,600 people are killed on our roads annually.
By conservative estimates, four lives are lost to accidents on our roads every day, which is an unacceptably high rate of human loss.
According to available records, 75 per cent of deaths on our roads involve people in the productive age bracket of 16-55 years. What this means, is that the country loses quite a substantial number of our able-bodied personnel, all because most drivers fail to obey simple road instructions.
With a little over a month to Christmas, the tendency is for drivers to be even more careless on our roads. The drive to cash in on more passengers availing themselves of transport facilities during the holiday period, means that commercial drivers are more likely to carry more passengers, and lower the time it normally takes to reach the various destinations.
That is one reason The Chronicle is charging the National Road Safety Commission and the Motor Traffic and Transport Unit of the Ghana Police Service to begin an early extensive education on the correct usage of our roads.
It is unfortunate, but it appears to have become one of the cancerous growths in society that the Christmas and Easter festivities are also the time when road accidents are on the increase.
The Road Safety Commission and the MTTU should involve the many transport unions in an extensive education drive to empower our drivers.
The common refrain is: ‘If you drive do not drink. If you drink, do not drive.’ It is a useful means of appealing to the conscience of our drivers. Unfortunately, it does not look like our drivers are taking their lessons seriously. That is why the police, especially, have to be up and doing.
The tendency to collect a few cedis from drivers who fall foul of driving regulations has not helped either. It does not make our drivers responsible enough.
At the end of the day, they know that when the chips are down, they would only be required to part with a few cedis.
If they are made to face the full rigours of the law, erring drivers are likely to be more careful. The other day, much was made of the Greater Accra Regional Police Commander, Rose Bio-Atinga, refusing monetary advancements made towards her by drivers in the national capital, Accra.
What we were not told, is what happened to those who tried to bribe the police chief.
The Chronicle is suggesting a mechanism that would make it unproductive for drivers to settle road offences by bribing the men and women in the black uniform.
Some time ago, there was a programme under which policemen arresting drivers were made to benefit from the court fines of offending drivers.
It is a very good means of motivating our policemen and women to be more responsive to the demands on them by their chosen profession.
We need to minimise the carnage on our roads. It is a drain on the human and material resources of this nation.