Securing The Safety Of Pedestrians



Securing the safety of pedestriansWe are all pedestrians at one time or the other. Most other road users move more significantly faster than pedestrians who have little or no bodily protection in the event of a collision or a crash.

By definition, a pedestrian is any person walking by foot in town or city rather than travelling in a vehicle. Globally, pedestrians comprise about a quarter of the world’s traffic deaths with low-income and middle income countries recording majority of these incidents.
In Ghana, two out of every five road traffic deaths affect a pedestrian putting the highly diverse road user group including children, older people and teenagers at a high risk.

Most of such accidents occur because stakeholders and regulators have failed to plan for their needs in the design and construction of the road; failed to enforce the laws; failed to empower road users with knowledge to minimize the risk in order to reduce the related deaths and injuries.

In Ghana, most of such incidents take place on highways that traverse settlement areas and at night. Accidents do not occur by chance, but they come about through the creation of human activities that hamper any form of development which could be prevented.
One, therefore, would ask; how safe are pedestrians in Ghana? It is obvious to note that the first offenders to such occurrences are the pedestrians themselves.

The development of any country is foreseen by the strength of population it has. Therefore, when those who make up the population do not adhere to simple rules and safety measures for their own good, they turn to make things difficult for the government to develop the country.

On most of our streets across the country, one could see pedestrian lanes encroached upon by way-side traders and hawkers. The most dangerous ones are the hawkers who sell on the streets. Some pedestrians instead, prefer to walk on the streets rather than walking on the pedestrian lanes.

The pedestrian safety situation in the country most a times have been overlooked by road safety institutions, Including the National Road Safety Commission, the Ghana Police Service, the Ghana Roads and Highways Authority and the Feeder Roads Department.
This is because these institutions have not been held accountable by governments. The safety of the Ghanaian pedestrian until recently has been neglected by the stakeholders in charge of road safety in the country.

An instance is the persistent accidents that take place on the newly constructed “George Bush Highwa”, also known as “the N1” Highway between November, 2012 and April, 2013 alone, about five deaths were recorded on the highway, with over 40 injuries.
Pedestrian safety situation in Ghana is clearly seen from the recorded number of accidents by the Ghana Police Service and the National Road Safety Commission ( NRSC ) between 2012-2013 respectively .

Authorities in charge of the safety of pedestrians on our roads have not done much to protect them in the past .Total estimate by the National Road Safety Commission of pedestrians crashed while crossing the road amounted to 73 per cent and 14 per cent were also crashed while walking along the road as at last year.

This unbearable situation has alarmed the citizenry and concerns had been raised on the rate at which such pedestrian accidents have been occurring. About 2,000 people died annually in Ghana through road traffic crashes.

At least six persons are reported killed in road clashes daily. Further findings by the National Road Safety Commission indicate statistics of road accidents in Ghana. It added that about 1600 people die annually in Ghana through road traffic crashes.

Most of such accidents affected pedestrians who walked on the streets, and their safety was never assured due to the carelessness of most drivers.
This record of accessing the pedestrians’ safety on the road indicates how unconcerned some pedestrians are when using the walkways.
Another factor that accounted for the loss of valuable citizens of the country was the negligence of pedestrians’ sign posts at most places in the city. Due to the lack of “owned responsibility” by stakeholders and the regulators on our roads the increasing incidence on road traffic crashes on pedestrians are maximized.

However, the National Road Safety Commission, mandated by law to regulate the safety of road users as well as the pedestrians has come out with some measures to curb the spate of traffic crashes on our roads mostly involving pedestrians using the slogan: Be Alert!…. look out for other road users .

These measures were designed to help reduce the persistent occurrences on the loss of pedestrians, especially through campaigns to sensitize motor riders, and drivers of the fact that pedestrians are legitimate road users and expect them on or near the motorway.
The campaign was also to educate pedestrians about minimising risks to their safety by establishing eye contact with other road users while improving visibility.
A call on the Ghana Police Service and other road regulators to conscientise drivers and pedestrians on the need to be ware when using the roads should be a concern to all and sundry to support the vision and goals of the Road Safety Commission as a contributory factor.

It is, therefore, imperative that a proactive road safety audit programme is designed by the NRSC and other regulators to address pedestrian needs like; walkways, pedestrian crossings, signalised intersections and footbridges, in all infrastructure projects.
In addition, the Commission could collaborate with the Police Service and municipalities to enforce the laws and by-laws that discourage jaywalking and the abuse of pedestrian walkways by traders and hawkers.

In the light of this, the numerous road safety challenges the country is grappling with including pedestrians’ safety would be minimized to the lowest level that we are all yearning for.

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