The Medical Director of the Accra Psychiatric Hospital, Dr Akwasi Osei, has called for epileptic testing, in addition to eye testing, before the acquisition of driving licences in the country.
He said eye testing alone could not help curb the spate of road accidents in the country, considering the prevalence of mild epileptic cases among Ghanaians.
One out of every five Ghanaians has a minor mental case and mild epilepsy is one of the minor mental illnesses, he added.
He explained that drivers who experienced bouts of mild epilepsy could have seconds of black-out, without necessarily falling down, but that could have disastrous consequences while driving.
Dr Osei, who was speaking at a public education forum on road accidents and the Easter festivities, said because the root cause had not been identified, despite the improvement in roads and the importation of vehicles which are in good condition into the country, road accidents were on the ascendancy in the country.
He urged Ghanaian drivers to practise more defensive driving by exhibiting more patience on the road, no matter the provocation from other road users such as passengers and pedestrians or fellow drivers.
He said good mental health was not limited to the absence of mental disease such as madness but also the absence of provocation, both at home and the workplace.
He explained that emotions such as anger could lead to mental illness but not madness and if that was not properly controlled it could lead to mad acts.
The medical director, therefore, appealed to people experiencing burning sensations in their heads not to rush to herbalists and juju men for medication but seek proper medical attention in order not to complicate their situation.
He said most of the mental symptoms had medical cure if patients sought early care, adding that when people allowed their cases to develop into complications, it could lead to irreparable damage.
He advised drivers to desist from drinking while driving, since alcohol retarded the time the brain used to send messages to the other parts of the body to react to dangerous situations.
The Director of Planning and Programmes at the National Road Safety Commission (NRSC), Mrs May Obiri-Yeboah, said both short and long-term measures had been adopted to address the carnage on the roads.
She said among the short-term measures were the introduction of log books for long-distance commercial drivers and towing services to convey accident vehicles from accident spots to prevent more accidents.
She said one of the long-term measures was controlling the speed limit with speed cameras that would be deployed throughout the country, especially at accident-prone areas.
The President of the Ghana Mental Health Association, Mr Godson King Akpalu, commended the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) for its co-operation with the association and the NRSC to educate drivers on road safety.
Source: Daily Graphic