Strategy for behavioural change on road safety regulations


Communication for social change:

Statistics indicate that six people die daily on Ghanaian roads due to road traffic collision and over US$230 million is lost yearly due to collisions on our roads leading to approximately 1600 deaths.

Several countries in the developing world are confronted with challenges relating to road safety. Road safety is critical to the socio-economic agenda of nations across the world. Concerns about road safety have been on the front burner of many countries particularly developing countries, where road safety issues are compounded not only by an increased population but also aggravated by the already bad health care delivery system.

The Ghana Police Service said a total of 517 persons died through road accident between January and February 2021. This is a significant increase in the 393 cases recorded in the same period last year. In all, 2,560 road accident cases have been reported between these past two months involving 1581 commercial vehicles and 974 motorcycles, with 2736 pedestrians knocked down.

Of the total figure of road deaths recorded in the past two months, the Ashanti Region recorded the highest with 108 deaths, followed by Eastern Region with 91 deaths and the Greater Accra Region with 89 deaths. From January to October 2020, there were nearly 12,100 road traffic accidents in Ghana which involve over 20,400 vehicles.

Moreover, the crashes led to 2,080 and 12,380 injuries. The source further indicated that buses and minibuses were the leading vehicles involved in accidents of this nature after cars. Road accidents in Ghana remain a major public safety issue.

Preliminary analysis

The Ghana Road Safety Authority plans to intensify education on road safety with a focus on both vehicles and humans. This has been occasioned by the number of lives lost to road accidents.

The number of accidents in recent times have increased the need to inculcate a behavioural change in the citizens to reduce the accidents. The contributing factors to road accidents in Ghana were identified as the poor nature of roads. The roads are so poor that they contribute to the numerous accidents that happened daily.

More attention should be paid to road networks. Some of the roads are poorly done and they deteriorate at a faster rate. Secondly, some of the road users are careless. They cross the roads where they are not supposed to do so.

The N-1 Highway is a typical example of how road users get knocked down because they refused to cross the road at the designated places. Zebra crossings and overpasses are created to allow users to cross without any difficulty. Unfortunately, the indiscipline in a Ghanaian will not permit him or her to adhere to road traffic regulations leading to accidents.

Secondly, over-speeding is one of the causes of road accidents in Ghana. Most drivers over-speed especially on the highways. They are sometimes urged on by passengers to speed up. The consequences are sometimes deadly.

Lack of education on road safety regulations by both drivers and road users is another reason for the high rates of accidents. It is commonplace to see a driver refusing to stop for road users to cross the road at a zebra crossing. Even police officers are culprits in this situation.

The point must also be emphasized that road users also play a role in the accident that happens. They forced the driver to speed up so they get to their destinations early forgetting that speed kills. Most road users lack education on where to cross and when not to cross the road. The indiscipline in Ghana is getting out of hand.

Road accidents have taken the lives of many compared to any disease in Ghana. There should be a vigorous campaign by the Ghana Road Safety Authority on regulation to save lives. Every life is necessary and important. Any life lost cannot be recovered again. It is therefore, necessary to protect drivers and motorists.

Communication for social change

A deliberate educational campaign on road safety regulations is one of the surest bets to addressing the problem of accidents in Ghana. Any strategy aimed at preventing the number of lives lost through road accidents in Ghana must adopt a communication for social change intervention- that is changing the minds of both drivers and road users to obey road safety regulations.

Every social change intervention takes time. It is not an event, but a process. One of the objectives of any intervention should be aimed at increasing stakeholders’ awareness of road safety regulations. There seems to be a lot of ignorance about road safety regulations among drivers and road users.

The Roads Ministry should advocate for education on the effects of accidents on the development of the nation Ghana. Again drivers must be sensitized to the effect of road accidents and how they can be prevented.

Periodic data on road accidents on national television and radio to inform them about how their carelessness causes road accidents should be part of the strategy. Enlisting victims of road accidents to speak on the horrible nature of what they went through should be enough to make drivers and road users more careful.

Community volunteer groups on road safety regulations should distribute information, education and communication materials such as posters, leaflets, booklets, detailing the effect of road accidents.

Animation videos (such as Zingaro animation on drug abuse). Translate the videos in the various local languages and played periodically on TV and also mount LED Billboards to roll them at lorry parks among others.

Also, use Community Radio stations to discuss the effect of accidents on national development as well as personal development. Every human life is important. Therefore, efforts must be pushed to reduce carnage on our roads. Looking at the number of lives lost through road accidents, there should be a need for the nation to introduce driving, and road safety in our schools to train future drivers. We must save lives. We must put our hands, minds, experience, hard work into making sure we reduce the carnage on our roads.

Tehn- Lennox AKPETEY

>>>The writer is a development communication consultant. [email protected]

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