NEWS COMMENTARY ON CRUCIAL ROAD SAFETY ISSUES AND THE NEED TO UPDATE AND INTENSIFY PUBLIC EDUCATION.
A proverb that was common in family circles during our formative years says, “If you see someone marching through thorny and rocky byways, he is likely being pursued by adversaries or chasing after an elusive objective.” This imagery seeks to highlight the instinct of survival, self-preservation and need to prevail over the circumstances that nature and diverse forces that abound throw at us, as we go about our daily activities. Recently, alerts in certain media outlets keep highlighting the importance for motorists and other road users to observe basic road safety regulations and guidelines to ensure smooth mobility.
The essence of these guidelines is to maintain focus, avoid distractions, remain watchful and responsive to relevant feedback from the environment. Observing these guidelines, getting the right interpretations, and taking the necessary precautions may make the difference in smooth and hassle-free journeys.
What happens on our roads and highways lends itself to the expression, “There is more to life than meets the eye”. This is an expression that can be applied to every aspect of our lives. It means certain things that may impact us, one way or the other, may or do happen without our initial grasp of the details. One very haunting Biblical injunction is, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” And that is happening on our roads as well. Road safety rules and regulations, as designed, disseminated, and enforced by the National Road Safety Authority, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), the Motor Traffic and Transport Department of the Ghana Police Service, and other stakeholders, are aimed at significantly reducing the year-on-year incidence of CIDs, that is, crashes, injuries and deaths.
There have been some successes with a number of these road safety campaigns, with particular reference to the recent “Stay Alive” campaign that followed the “Arrive Alive” version held earlier last year. However, these measures currently seem to leave other road users in the dark and insufficiently informed. There appears to be no ready record indicating the extent to which the education programmes conducted by the regulatory bodies expose the deep, deadly, scary, yet concealed dangers, traps, and pitfalls that regularly line our roads. Dangers on our roads are numerous, some in the form of heaps of bagged garbage, artificial or engineered road blocks. Others are broken-down trucks with open doors or back-end cargo-holds that are meant took swallow the poor.
Unauthorised crossings of other road users’ routes or paths; simulated, head-on impacts, whose intention is to project accidents ahead through sharp object vibrations, are other instances where motor vehicles have been turned into non-contact weapons or messengers of death, destructions and destiny-exchanges that are actively and wickedly worked on the highways every passing moment.
For, as is said, oftentimes, before the reality, the expectation would already have been negotiated in the spiritual. Ours is a costly, continued struggle to improve the quality of lives of our people by providing basic social amenities and other development interventions that are best delivered through science, technology, and innovation, and we have to come to a final and firm decision point: In fact, many hold the belief that “every accident is not an accident.”
Though this is debatable, our environment is so steep in such beliefs that basic scientific analysis of the carnage on our roads leaves us in no doubt that, largely human error and the decisions we make are the consequences of what we see on our roads each passing day. Roads serve as the connecting arteries that enable the daily social and economic activities of individuals or any group making meaning of their lives anywhere. Unsafe roads, apart from being dangerous to human lives, also have the capacity to stem the free flow of goods and people, curtail productive hours, and thus hamper the mobilisation of all resources necessary to make a legitimate claim for the level and rate of socio-economic development we desire and deserve.
Vital suggestions are being made that the National Road Safety Authority, the DVLA, the Police MTTD, and other stakeholders, as well as individual road users, will identify and readily take the relevant measures, to make our roads and highways safe.
By Raymond Tuvi, a Media And Development Consultant.