Within the course of the year 2020, the National Road Safety Authority in collaboration with Joy FM, Multimedia Group, Logistics Movers and Toyota Ghana Ltd launched an educational campaign with the caption "ARRIVE ALIVE"
The catch phrase, theme or caption however you look at it or examine it presupposes once you decide to use the road from a point of a departure, your goal and expectations is that you should arrive alive at your destination. To be able to attain your expectation, namely arrive alive is dependent upon a number of factors. My view is that responsibility is key.
Oxford Concise English DICTIONARY defines responsibility as follows:
The state or fact of being responsible
The opportunity or ability to act independently and take decisions without authorization often a thing one is required to do as part of job, role or legal obligation.
Responsibility within the context of road usage imposes a number of obligations on the road user. First and foremost is that you are responsible for your safety. Secondly, you are responsible for the safety of those you carry in your vehicle. Last but not the least you are responsible for the safety of other road users. Aside the elements or requirements or contents of responsibility in relation to road usage organizations and institutions both in the public and private sectors have responsibilities to exercise to enable road users Arrive Alive.
The Daily Graphic of Saturday 27th February, 2021, carried on itsfront page. "Police blame driver for AkyemAsafo fatal crash". The fact as presented on page 13 of the Daily Graphic fits squarely into the elements of usage of the road. Was the driver mindful of his responsibility towards his own safety? Was the driver mindful of the safety of the passengers he was conveying? Was he mindful of his responsibility towards other road users namely the passengers or the driver in charge of the on-coming vehicle?
As a result of the head on collision which led to the death of 19 passengers and unspecified number of injured a number of questions emerged for consideration. My enquiry revealed that seat belts are installed in VIP buses. Did the passengers on that particular bus wear them on the day of the accident? There were seat belts, and did the driver remind the passengers to wear their belts prior to the start of the journey. Has management instructed drivers in their employment to always request passengers to wear seat belts? Are there reminders posted at strategic positions in the buses to remind passengers. Drivers are also responsible for the safety of their passengers. What each and every one of us should know is that the Natural law of inertia acts on the human beings and any object in the vehicle.
If you place books on the rear seat whilst driving and you brake suddenly, the book(s) will move towards the front and may fall on the floor. As the vehicle is in motion your body is also in motion. That explains why when there is head on collision, passengers who are not belted fly through the windshield. Passengers become flying missiles. The difference is that these missiles will not fly to an enemy territory but rather to an emergency ward or the grave. Whenever head on collision occurs the resultant impact is the combination of the speeds at which the two vehicles were travelling prior to the collision.
At night when you observe an approaching vehicle, you cannot accurately know the type of vehicle that is approaching for you to guess and access its likely speed. You cannot also determine with accuracy the distance between you and the approaching vehicle. All that you are seeing are lights. In any case as you drive and the approaching vehicle is on the move, whatever distance you observe from the start gradually reduces and shortens. Why should you attempt to overtake four long trucks at night when visibility is reduced?
At this point, let me give a few examples and illustrations to buttress my thought and conviction that responsibility is key. A professional boxer who was preparing for an international fight was knocked downand killed by a vehicle at dawn whilst jogging. For all you know he was wearing dark clothes. All that the driver saw was darkness ahead and not a human being. We wear dark clothes to funerals and we stay beyond reasonable hours knowing very well that before we reach our destination, we will cross the road at one point or the other.
We as pedestrians cross the road behind parked vehicles. When you cross the road behind parked vehicles an approaching driver in charge of a vehicle will not see you. A number of pedestrians could not arrive alive at their respective destinations because they did not exercise responsibility in the use of the road. Some motorcyclists and pedal cyclists do not wear protective helmets and expect to arrive alive at their destinations. There is overwhelming evidence that a number of them could not make it because occupants neglected to wear their seat belts when seat belts are installed in the vehicles they never arrived alive at their expected destinations. Road users have been advised to wear seatbelt and crash helmet in the Ghana Highway Code which was published in 1974.
It may not be out of observation that the average Ghanaian road user becomes conscious of the value of time when using the road. For we cross the road at dangerous points, overtake in a bend, crest of a hill, fleet of vehicles and jumping red light without exercise of responsibility towards our own safety.
Regulation 83 (1) of the Road Traffic Regulations 2012, LI 1280 states as follows. "A person shall not drive a motor vehicle on a road unless that person has in the motor vehicle a pair of advance warning triangle. "The Motor Traffic and Transport Department of the Ghana Police Service are mandated by law to arrest and prosecute those who infringe the Road Traffic Act and Regulations. That notwithstanding, major stakeholders in delivering of road transport services are GPRTU, Protoa (Progressive Transport Owners Association) etc. Do their men inspect vehicles which are registered with them that there are warning triangles in their respective vehicles before they leave terminals for every journey? A number of persons have died on the road because vehicles conveying them have crashed into broken-down vehicles. In most cases if not all, there were no warning triangles placed behind the broken-down vehicles, to warn approaching vehicles of danger ahead.
Each year MMDA's purchase vehicles to enable themto deliver services to the public. How many MMDAs provide refresher training programmes for their drivers? Meanwhile, when senior staffs are travelling within and out of the country for meetings or training programs, these drivers drive them. How are you sure of their knowledge of rules of the road, skills and experience? How many MMDA's send their drivers for their eye sights to be checked? A basic principle in road crash prevention is see and be seen, 90%of decisions that are taken on the road depends on what we see.
Parliament in its wisdom passed the Road Traffic Act 2004, Act 683. Section 13 states as follows: "A person of 18 years or above who (a) drives a motor vehicle on a road, or (b) sits on the front or rear seat of a motor vehicle being driven on a road without wearing seat belt commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding 100 penalty units or to a term of imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or to both. In 1974, the Ghana Highway Code provided that we fit seat belt and wear them, however short the journey is. In 1994, a female Member of Parliament was travelling with her driver on the Accra-Cape Coast road and died as a result of road crash. It was alleged that she wasn't wearing her seatbelt. One cannot compare the cost the country incurred in the organization of the by-elections and related matters. If all Honorable Members of Parliament wear seat belts always; some of the constituents will copy their leadership example. Road safety is a shared and collective responsibility.
Each time road accident occurs, the Press - both print and electronic Media - make the public to be aware of what occurred. In 2015, a member of the Presidential Press Corps was among colleagues who were returning from coverage in the Volta Region with great expectation that they will arrive alive. He never made it. It was alleged that he sat on the front seat of the bus and was not wearing seat belt. His colleagues visited his burial site recently. How many of them or the staff of the said media house wear seat belts? The media house where the deceased was an employee used to display the message wear your seat belt, on their gate as you are about to exit the premises. Since the renovation of the premises the message has been painted over. Road Safety is a shared and collective responsibility. As you bring us the news, it is not out of place if you start wearing your seat belt on every journey.
Whenever accidents occur involving organizations vehicles, aside DVLA and Police investigations and reports, do the affected organizations undertake accident investigation? If the organizations undertake their investigations, it becomes a learning point for them.The said investigations have innumerable benefits for the affected organizations. For me, this is one area where the attainment of road safety is a shared and collective responsibility by two entities.
The roadworthiness of any vehicle is the primary responsibility of the owner and the user. The Role of the Motor Traffic and Transport Department of the Police Service and Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority are secondary and complementary. The owner and the user is required and expected to undertake a pre-trip and post-trip inspection of his or her vehicle. For example, it is not the steering wheel that drives the vehicle. It is the tyre, your life depends on the tyres. Check the conditions of your tyres regularly.
With the enactment and passage of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (Private Vehicle Testing Stations) Regulations, 2012 (L12192) licensed private vehicle testing station operators become stakeholders. Indeed, they assumed a shared responsibility with the Driver and the Vehicle Licensing Authority to implement the provisions in the Road Traffic Act 2004, Act 683 Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority Act 1999, Act 569 as well as the Regulations under which they were licensed to operate.They become de-facto organization to ensure that vehicles that pass through their station or testing centers are tested and declared road worthy and fit to use the road. That requirement and expectation becomes a shared and collective responsibility between the DVLA and the private vehicle testing station operators.
Dealers in motor vehicle could pool their financial resources together and support the key agencies in promoting and ensuring road safety. For if on a stretch of the highway or urban, rural roads you encounter three or more vehicles or even a vehicle belonging to a certain brand, your initial reaction is why? In case you are thinking of buying that vehicle or brand, you may hesitate. It is universally known and acknowledged that driver or the human factor contributes tremendously to road crash. That author is aware motor vehicle dealers support National Road Safety Committee/Commission.
Bur Oliver Twist asks for more in order to continually realize road safety as a shared and collective responsibility.
Dealers in motorcycles are stakeholders in ensuring that road safety is a shared and collective responsibility. As far back as 1974, the Road Traffic Offences Regulations provided in Regulation 19 that "No person shall ride a motorcycle or carry a pillion rider without any of them wearing a crash helmet".
The Road Traffic Act, 2004, Act 683 made provision to that effect. Section 16 (1) of the Road Traffic Act states "A person who rides or is ridden on a motorcycle on a road shall wear a protective helmet of a type prescribed by regulations".
They should ensure that they sell the motorcycle and two crash helmets to any prospective purchaser. The legislature was informed of the fact that motorcycle makes provision for two persons, the rider and the pillion rider. Road safety is a shared and collective responsibility. Dealers in motorcycle can contribute their quota by insisting and selling every motorcycle with two protective helmets. The Okada Riders Association should educate their members to wear crash helmet as well as the pillion riders. It is their responsibility to ensure that they and their pillion riders arrive alive.
In conclusion, there is no doubt in my mind; the reader will agree with me that to arrivealive, responsibility is key.
BY J. M. Y. AMEGASHIE
The writer is a Lawyer and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Transport and Logistics. He is the author of Safe Driving Simplified (with Questions and Answers) as well as The Vehicle Owner and Driver: The Law and Conventions on Road Transport. His email is email@example.com