Road safety: Ghana's ambitious projects
The number of motor vehicles in Ghana is increasing rapidly and, coupled with population growth, is contributing to a rise in the number of road traffic injuries and fatalities. Road safety has become a major national issue. Fortunately, the government and donor community have reacted quickly and increased funding to the National Road Safety Committee, enabling it to expand and implement new targeted road safety initiatives. The Danish International Development Assistance, Danida, has been a primary supporter of government road safety activities in Ghana.
Road accidents kill an average of four persons daily in Ghana. Some 70% of crashes occur on flat and straight roads. Speed is a major cause of crashes, accounting for over 50% of reported crashes. Buses and mini-buses cause 35% of fatal crashes while cars are responsible for 32%. Pedestrians continue to be the most vulnerable road user group, accounting for more than 40% of the annual road crash fatalities.
Although fatality numbers are growing, crash risk has remained stable over the past six years. Data management systems are improving as IT systems become more widely available and this will have an impact on the crash reduction programme from better informed safety programmes.
Road safety coordination and stakeholders
In the past, road safety activities were carried out by individual departments within the Ministry of Roads and Transport with the National Road Safety Committee. The purpose of the strategy was to break the upward trend in crashes, injuries and fatalities and create a basis for concrete, sustainable crash reduction by 2010. The overall target was a 5% reduction in road fatalities from 1998 as the base year to 2005 and a further 15% reduction before the end of 2010. A new 5-year strategy is currently being prepared.
Six major road safety problems have been selected as focus areas for the strategy:
- Accident black spots in urban areas and villages;
- Professional drivers;
- Drunken driving;
Global Road Safety Partnership projects in Ghana
Since its registration as an NGO, the organisation has grown from a core management team to include a technical group and an executive board. Partnerships have been developed with numerous organisations and agencies from the public, private and non-governmental sectors.
Road Systems Management:
- Speed study: an independent urban speed study was conducted by GRSP Ghana in November 2006. The results indicate that drivers are exceeding posted limits (50kph – 30mph) by as much as 50kph and that vulnerable road users are at extreme risk of severe injuries from high urban speeds.
- Pre-hospital care: GRSP Ghana helped organise a seminar on trauma care at Akosumbo (Volta Lake) in June 2005.
Safer Road Users:
- Voluntary code of conduct: The idea that it is possible to engage the public at a personal level in road safety has led to the development of the driver Voluntary Code of Conduct (VCoC). This project is the result of a partnership between Shell Ghana Limited the Global Road Safety Partnership (Ghana) and the National Road Safety Commission. It uses the simple idea that people will act in a way that is consistent with their expressed beliefs and that they will hold to commitments made publicly. The VCoC scheme identified 10 road-safety issues and drafted them into a personal commitment document. The scheme is rolled out through companies and organisations in order to create a network of members who actively agree to engage in good safety behaviour on the 10 key issues: seat-belt wearing, not using mobile phones while driving, obeying traffic lights, proper vehicle lighting, drinking and driving, careless overtaking, courtesy, excessive speed, safe following distance, road worthy vehicle and visibility at night. Today more than 85 companies are participating in the scheme and Shell have adopted it as part of their operational strategy in other parts of Africa.
- Study of seat belt use: GRSP Ghana undertook the first national study on seat belt compliance in Ghana in 2006 as part of the Drive to Live programme in partnership with Shell Ghana. Some observations indicate about 40% compliance with seat belt usage laws. The data was collected prior to a road safety campaign conducted by Shell Ghana that encouraged seat belt wearing and switching off phones while driving.
- Training: Two road safety training courses were organised by GRSP Ghana, one for a Youth Coalition (two days) and one for the Police (one day).
- Insurance: In early 2007, GRSP Ghana and the Ghana Insurance Industry initiated a cooperation to assist insurance companies in Ghana to identify and focus on ways they can positively influence driver behaviour such as introducing a system of premium rates to reward safe drivers.
- Safer Vehicles: GRSP Ghana has continued to be an active member of the "Vehicle Standards for Testing" Committee set up by the Standards Board. The aim has been to improve inspection standards for brake systems, lighting, tyres etc.
Ghana’s front-line “ambassadors”
GRSP Ghana played a supporting role at the 4th UN African Road Safety Congress, held in the Ghanaian capital in 2007 under the theme 'Road Safety and the Millennium Development Goals: Reducing the Rate of Accident Fatality by Half by 2015. GRSP Ghana’s on-going collaboration with police and transport officials in Ghana continued to bear fruit with a series of workshops and interactive training sessions designed to help the country manage a wide range of road safety and policing challenges. Most recently, GRSP managers facilitated a workshop for roughly thirty officers in Ghana’s Motor Traffic and Transport Unit (MTTU) on November 2009. The workshop sessions were highly interactive, with participants playing or breaking into groups to discuss issues affecting their unit (police and driver knowledge of traffic laws, equipment needs, public relations, etc.).
These actions were just some outcomes from another significant road safety event in Ghana: the International Road Safety Conference in Accra, Nov. 2009. The conference marked the 10th Anniversary of the National Road Safety Commission and the Driver Vehicle Licensing Authority, both created in 1999.
Read also in this section:
- 2011-2020: A decade of action and hope for road safety
- Benefits of the Proactive Partnership Strategy to São José dos Campos, Brazil
- GRSP - Road crashes: An everyday humanitarian disaster
- Innovative technologies to improve road safety
- Sweden's Vision Zero: no victims or serious injuries in road traffic
- Road Safety: The World Health Organization defines five priorities