Driver distraction and road-user indiscipline, such as text messaging and interfacing with in-vehicle navigation or communication systems while driving, are among the leading contributors to road traffic fatalities and injuries, the Chief Executive Officer of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), Kwasi Agyeman Busia, has said.
He noted that on average, six people are killed in the country each day in the course of their use of the road; and in a single year, over 2,000 lives are lost.
“Road traffic crashes in Ghana are indeed a pandemic. They have denied and extinguished dreams and destinies; they have annihilated families and shattered hopes and aspirations of many,” he added.
He stressed that strict measures must be adopted to further ensure safety on roads.
According to the provisional data presented by the National Road Safety Authority (NRSA) on road traffic statistics, a total of 8,869 cases were reported involving 15,239 vehicles; casualties comprised of 1,443 fatalities and 9,218 injuries were recorded by July this year.
It added that compared to the same period in 2021, there was a decrease of 6.84 percent in cases reported, 6.08 percent decrease in vehicles involved, 15.42 percent decrease in fatalities, 0.87 percent decrease in persons injured, and 9.2 percent decrease in pedestrian knock-downs.
It is against this background that Mr. Agyeman Busia, delivering a speech at the launch of the 2022 Ghana Driver & Road Safety Awards (GDRSA) on the theme: ‘The Role of Information Technology in Promoting Safer Road Users’ in Accra, argued that the responsibility of making our roads safer is a collective one.
“It is for this reason that the required synergy between DVLA, National Road Safety Authority (NRSA), the Motor Transport and Traffic Directorate (MTTD), and all other stakeholders is logical, necessary and even dire. Policy-makers and regulators must necessarily collaborate and concentrate resources and efforts in developing and building the capacities required to keep our roads safe,” he added.
He disclosed that in the next few months DVLA will introduce a new digitised and securitised license plate and smart embossing system, to make number plates unique, traceable, and verifiable.
For his part, the Minister for Transport, Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, reiterated that with over 700 million cars on the roads today, and with the perspective that by 2030, there will be 2 billion, the road safety crisis should be tackled and treated with some urgency.
“The worldwide annual toll of 1.3 million deaths and 50 million injuries due to road traffic crashes, and the speed of its growth is unacceptably high.
“Injuries and deaths due to road traffic crashes are a major public health problem in developing countries where more than 50 percent of deaths and 90 percent of disabilities adjusted life years were lost through road traffic injuries,” the minister stated.
Global road safety statistics indicate that 1.3 million people die each year in traffic-related crashes, and another 20 to 50 million people are injured particularly in developing countries around the world. As a result, global economic loss is estimated at over US$500billion.