The Director-General of the National Road Safety Authority (NRSA), Mrs. May Obiri-Yeboah, has tasked political parties to include road safety measures in their campaign messages and activities to help reduce accidents, especially in the lead up to the December elections.
She said the statistical trend shows a rise in road crashes and casualties, including deaths, in the years 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012, which were all years when general elections were held in the country under the 1992 Constitution.
According to her, statistics indicated that election years were more susceptible to road accidents due to increased political activities.
Mrs. Obiri-Yeboah was speaking at a road safety dialogue organized by the NRSA in Accra yesterday, where the authority engaged political parties on ways to reduce road accidents during campaign seasons.
There were eight political parties at the dialogue, including the National Democratic Congress (NDC), the Ghana Union Movement (GUM), the Convention People’s Party (CPP), the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), the Ghana Freedom Party (GFP) and the Liberal Party of Ghana (LPG).
The NRSA, established by the National Road Safety Act, 2019 (Act 993), is the lead public statutory body responsible for road safety in Ghana.
Currently, the authority is implementing the National Road Safety Strategy Three to stabilize and reduce road traffics related casualties by 50 percent by the year 2020.
A trend analysis of the figures over the past 28 years has shown that all election years recorded higher road crashes and fatalities than the preceding years, with the exception of 2016.
As of September this year, road accident figures showed that 10,535 crashes had occurred, with 10,933 injuries and 1,828 deaths.
Those statistics indicate a steady increase in the road accident situation, compared with the same period of 2019 which recorded 10,294 crashes, 10,721 injuries and 1,733 deaths.
Also, the 2020 figures show that road crashes had increased over the 2016 election year when 8,651 crashes occurred.
In 1992 when the country returned to democratic rule and had elections in December 7, the number of crashes was 6,922, which resulted in 10,030 casualties and 914 deaths. The figures shot up to 8,488 crashes,10, 952 casualties and 1,049 fatalities in 1996, the next election year.
The figures also showed an increase over the 1995 situation, where 8,313 crashes were recorded, with 1,132 casualties and 1,026 deaths. The increasing trend continued in 2000, with that election year recording 11,087 crashes, 13,747 casualties and 1,437 deaths.
That was after the country had recorded 8,763 crashes, 11,439 casualties and 1,237 fatalities in 1999.
In 2004, Ghana had 12,175 road crashes, 18,445 casualties and 2,186 fatalities, an increase over 2003 road accident statistics of 10,542 crashes, 16,185 casualties and 1,716 deaths. Although in 2008 the 11,214 road crashes recorded were lower than the 12,038 recorded in 2007, the casualties remained higher (16,455 for 2008 and 16,416 for 2007).
However, the fatalities for 2008 were 1,938, lower than the 2,043 recorded in 2007. The road crashes and fatalities went up to 12,083 and 2,240, respectively, in 2012, as against the 10,887 crashes and 2,199 fatalities that occurred in 2011.
There was an improvement in the figures for the 2016 election year, as the road crashes and fatalities reduced to 8,651 and 2,084, respectively, compared with the 9,796 crashes and 1,802 deaths in 2015.
As part of the dialogue, the NRSA has sensitized the participants to the road safety code for political parties it has prepared. They were also made to sign an agreement to affirm their commitment to ensure safety on the roads and also champion road safety campaigns.
The six-point road safety code touches on more than 50 dos and donts for political parties who would be criss-crossing the country, campaigning for the mandate of the electorate.
It advises the political parties to appoint road safety champions to monitor the parties’ campaign and rally programmes to ensure compliance with all the codes.
It also advises them to plan their trips to cover the route, travel time and speed, with stops and rest times; the appointment of competent drivers who must observe defensive driving techniques, as well as ensuring that the vehicles are roadworthy.
Mrs. Obiri-Yeboah said the road safety code had been reviewed to make it more relevant to the season.
“We are in a political season and, therefore, have reviewed the code of conduct for political parties and their followers to ensure a reduction in road crashes during this period.
“We are not blaming political parties as being the cause of road crashes; we only want them to support us by championing road safety campaigns,” she added.
The Director of Planning and Programs at the NRSA, Mr. David Adonteng, also entreated politicians to plan their journeys, reduce speed and obey road traffic regulations as they traversed the country to campaign.
Additionally, he urged them to choose competent and responsible drivers who were mature and trained and possessed valid driving licenses.
“You must brief drivers on the journey, routes, travel speed and setting off time. You must also ensure your drivers are screened to ascertain their health, state of mind, suitability and physical preparedness to travel,” he said.
Mr. Adonteng further asked political parties to ensure that their campaign billboards were designed in line with approved standards, adding that they must desist from posting their campaign materials on road signposts.