The word accident by definition means that there is no intent of commission or omission so that does not necessarily make one liable criminally especially if it’s road traffic accident. Due to this, the National Road Safety Commission has been advocating for the use of the word “crush” in place of accidents since there is elements of negligence in most accidents and the circumstances under which they occurred.
As a young Police officer who has been investigating accidents for the past 7 years, I can authoritatively say that most fatal accidents in Ghana are purely due to the negligence on the parts of the drivers. With right mindset and the right approach to the enforcements of our road traffic regulations, we will survive the accidents crisis which seems to loom. Our approach to accidents have always been the reactive type, where we wait for accidents to occur before we rush to the scenes with a flint of hope to see whether we can save some people instead of proactive type where road traffic regulations are strictly enforced to avoid the occurrence of accidents in the first place.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Global status report on road safety, 1.25 million people die in road traffic accident every year. What this means that, road traffic accidents is a global phenomenon not unique to only Ghana but the measures put in place to reduce accidents to its barrest minimum is what matters. In the advanced countries, the only solution to accidents is the strict enforcements of road traffic laws and strict compliance by the citizenry.
Here in Ghana, 6 people die everyday in accidents, 150 a month and 1400 people in a year according to National Road Safety Commission. That should be a great source of worry for Ghanaians since no one is safe as far as road traffic accidents are concerned. Accidents do not cause deaths only but leave people in economic hardships and poverty. Many people lose valuable properties as well as leaving hundreds in permanent damages. The cost of accident is physically and economically unquantifiable.
It is the mandate of the Road Traffic Department of Ghana police service -the MTD, to ensure that road traffic regulations are enforced to the strict compliance of offending drivers, riders and pedestrians but unfortunately this department of the police is suffering from battered image crisis as a result of wild accusations from the general and travelling public for bribery and corruption on our roads. In recent times this branch of the police service has to endure intermittent suspensions from the road particularly in election years due to administrative directives. Elsewhere in some other jurisdictions, their MTDs have been modified, their operations reviewed and well resourced to generate huge revenues for the state. It is very different here.
We also have the Drivers’ and Lincensing Authority to blame if accidents are getting rampant on our roads. They are mandated to issue licence to drivers. For a very long time the activities of “Goro boys” have hampered the efficiency of DVLA and as a result of that many unqualified drivers who acquired their licenses through illegal means found themselves on the road without going through testing requirements about dos and don’ts as well as road traffic signs which are to guide drivers on the road. They are causing deaths as results of rampage crush on our roads.
Accusing fingers should also be pointed at the National Road Safety Commission too. It is a commission back by Act 567/99 to promote and coordinate road safety activities and to give the public all the needed education on road safety. If you look at the behaviour of some people on the road, it suggest that, either the the Road Safety Commission is not working up to their mandate or the education is not going down well with Ghanaian people.
The first charge for every driver who is involved in road traffic accident is careless and inconsiderate driving contrary to section 3 of Act 683/04 as ammended by section 3 of Act 761/08. With this charge, we try to look whether the accident was due to the negligence of the driver and as to whether he was considerate to other road users since he owes duty of care to other road users.
At end, we are to prove with collated evidences based on the circumstances that led to the accident that it occurred due to the carelessness of the driver and also as to whether or not he was considerate to other road users as well, or to establish authoritatively that the accident occurred due to a mechanical fault such as brake failure or tyre burst. If it is a mechanical fault, irrespective of the the number of lives lost in the accident, the law prescribes that we should leave the driver to go scot free.
We were told that the accident that occurred at Kintampo where a Truck loaded with Tomatoes was involved in an accident with a Metro Mass Bus that over 70 Ghanaians lost their precious lives was a mechanical fault. It means drivers who due to their actions and innactions caused the accidents are walking about free unless other contemplated charges were proffered against them.
The first to prevent an accident start from the driver, follow by passengers and the pedestrian. If all these actors fail to play their role to prevent accidents, the state should intervene by ensuring that road traffic regulations are strictly enforced to the letter by giving the police independent role to enforce law and order on the road since that is their constitutional mandate to ensure that Ghana is safe for all and sundry.
I hear some 25 people have died in road traffic accident at Winneba. It is normal because we will soon forget it until another people die in a similar manner either at the same spot, or another place before we start the talking again but we will never walk our talks to save ourselves from scaring claws of accidents which are sending a lot of energetic people into early grave.
Ghana is a problem country with massive leadership and institutional failures. Rampant accidents on our roads test to that and I am a witness to it.
We should enforce our road traffic regulations strictly and stay safe.
Ahanta Apemenyimheneba Kwofie III firstname.lastname@example.org