Ensuring Child Pedestrian Safety On Our Roads

child pedestrianAccording to the National Road Safety Commission (NRSC), in 2010 there were 19 fatalities per 10,000 vehicles in Ghana. The statistics showed that 43 per cent of the fatalities involved pedestrians and 53 per cent involved occupants of vehicles.

What is most worrisome is the alarming 23 per cent rate of all pedestrian fatalities which involved children below the age of 16. The major cause of road accidents in Ghana is due to over speeding which accounts for 60 per cent of car crashes in the country.
There have been records of children involved in road accidents, causing serious injuries and sometimes deaths.

Children all over the world are the most vulnerable and must be protected; their protection is clearly spelt out in every country’s law. It is, however, unfortunate in Ghana that children’s safety cannot be guaranteed on our roads.

School children in their bid to cross the roads are knocked down because some drivers drive over the 50 kilometre  per hour, which is the correct speed limit at pedestrian crossing. Children who cannot judge distances usually fall victims to such accidents, which surprisingly sometime happen at zebra crossings.

In Ghana, pedestrians struggle to cross our roads, since some drivers drive above the given limit of speed and are not ready to slow  down or stop at zebra crossing for other road users to cross the roads.

Foot bridges which are constructed to help pedestrians cross roads, especially the NI motorway, is not situated at where pedestrians usually cross over to the other side; they are between 400 and 500 metres apart from approved bus stops. This situation does not encourage pedestrians to walk over to these footbridges to cross to the other side.

The Director of Education at the Metro Traffic and Transport Unit (MTTU) Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Alex Obeng on a recent television programme said more than 43 per cent of people who died in road accidents last year were pedestrians.

He attributed the situation to lack of professional competence on the part of commercial drivers. This means that it is important for all stakeholders and the public to come on board to help check the carnage on the roads since it is national issue.

It is high time the various agencies within the road transport industry such as the NRSC, MTTU of the Ghana  Police Service, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), and transport unions like the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) as well as driving school, organise workshops and seminars for drivers on road safety management.

This is because it has been established that drivers contribute to about 93 per cent of road accidents and majority of such accidents are faults from drivers who have not had any formal education and training in driving. Parents would have to educate their wards through conversations and in their everyday parent-child up-bringing to be cautious when crossing the road.

It would also help when road safety education is made part of their syllabus or curricula. This would enable every child to know the rules and regulations governing road safety and road safety issues.

Drivers and pedestrians are both guilty of using cell phones on the roads. The law on this should strictly be enforced by our security personnel. Nobody can perform a multi-task.  Driving especially is a serious task which takes up all the five senses.
When enough and proper education is done on our roads, the risk of road crashes leading to severe injuries and sometimes death would ease and our children would also feel safe on our roads.

With this, the onus falls on NRSC, which was established by an Act OF Parliament (Act 567) in 1999, with the mandate to develop and promote road safety and coordinate policies in relation to them.

The Act outlines the functions of the Commission to undertake nationwide road safety education by encouraging the development of road safety education as part of the curriculum and training of teachers in road safety. – Matilda Tettey

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