The increasing spate of road accidents in Ghana has been a worry to most people. Stakeholders including the government seem to be in despair as to the right approach to solving the menace. Recent statistics released by the motor transport and traffic unit (MTTU) of the Ghana police service show a worrying death rate as a result of road accidents. Though death, whether due to natural or unnatural causes is a painful and unavoidable part of life, those caused by road accidents are arguably the most painful because they are the most unexpected.

The menace of unregulated commercial motorcycle riders popularly called “Okada” on our high ways, cities, and towns with the attendant problem of reckless driving, an authorized loading of passengers and goods has become a norm. This is contributing significantly to road accidents in the country. Many of us patronize these motorcycles without knowing we are condoning and encouraging illegality. The most dangerous aspect of this “Okada” commercial business is when we do not wear helmets thus exposing ourselves to fatal crashes.

The pervasive culture of silence where we keep quiet over almost everything is partly responsible for the increasing rate of accidents in the country. An experience they say is the best teacher. We board cars and other vehicles on daily basis. Most often, the drivers of these vehicles engage in many unprofessional and dangerous practices like overspending, receiving, and taking calls whilst driving and over-taking.  As passengers, pedestrians or observers, we keep quiet and observe these happenings. The accidents that result subsequently from these practices are what we are quick to complain about. We forget about the practices that led to the accidents which could have been prevented if we complain and drawn the attention of relevant authorities to the same.

Another cause of road accidents in Ghana is attributable to our driver licensing regime in the country. Despite the recent reforms in the driver and vehicle licensing regime, more needs to be done in terms of the actual monitoring of drivers and meting out instant sanctions to drivers who go contrary to road traffic regulations. There is a seeming gap between licensed drivers and the enforcement of road traffic regulations on our roads. The motor transport and traffic unit of the Ghana police service seem to be under-resourced and could not handle or attend to all the road traffic offenses daily. Even in situations where drivers are arrested, the punishment meted out to them is not punitive enough to deter others from committing similar offenses. This has indirectly led to unprofessional driving practices on our roads.

The negative attitude of some passengers and drivers also contributes significantly to road accidents in the country. Most drivers speed unnecessarily, overtake in the quest for passengers, and disregard traffic regulations. Some passengers engage in unnecessary arguments with drivers and distract them leading to accidents on our roads.

Ensuring road safety and reducing road accidents require a collective effort. Individual consciousness and awareness, collective action, and insistence are very important in preventing or at least reducing road accidents in Ghana. As we board and alight from vehicles daily, we must police each other, especially the drivers who are responsible for taking us to our destinations. We must make sure they abide by all road traffic regulations and obey road signs and instructions. When we dedicate ourselves to ensuring safety on our roads, we will require no external institution or help those that exist to help prevent and reduce road accidents in the country.

As a country, we need to pay attention to the carnage on our roads. This requires both individual and collective effort.

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