All drivers seeking to renew or upgrade their driver’s licenses will have to undergo a mandatory refresher training, Vice President Kwesi Amissah-Arthur has said.
He explained that the measure is to improve the knowledge-store and skills of drivers.
“The best safety device that can be installed in a vehicle is a trained and careful driver. So we have established the National Drivers Academy with the support of the private sector,” the Vice President said.
He was delivering Fifth Annual Lecture Series of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) on the theme “Safer Roads: A 21st Century Development Challenge” in Abuja, Nigeria on Friday.
The Lecture, attended by Nigeria’s Attorney General Mr Mohammed Bello Adoke, who represented Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan, members of the Diplomatic Corps, Governors of State, the Corps Marshall, officers and staff of the FRSC of Nigeria, provided a platform to bring the issue of road safety to a level that would provide more public interest.
Vice President Amissah-Arthur said road transport is the primary means of transport in the ECOWAS sub-region, but crashes have become an undesirable by-product of the road transport system globally and more disturbingly in low and middle-income economies.
Citing data from the World Health Organization, Vice President Amissah-Arthur said road crashes claim roughly 3,200 lives each day, meaning a million and quarter deaths occur each year.
Young adults, that is, those aged between 15 and 44 years, account for almost 60 per cent of global road traffic deaths. About 77 per cent of those accidents involve men. And a massive 92 per cent of these road traffic deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, in Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean region, where just 53 per cent of global vehicles are registered.
The statistics also show that pedestrian, cyclists and other riders of two-wheelers and their passengers account for half of all road traffic deaths globally.
He said in 2010, low-income countries had an average road traffic fatality rate of 18.3 compared to high-income countries that registered a fatality rate of 8.7.
The African region had the highest road traffic fatality rate of 24.1, while Europe had a rate of 10.3 and is projected that by the year 2020, road traffic injuries could be the third leading cause of deaths globally, killing up to two million people with 90 per cent of all injuries occurring in developing countries.
The Vice President Amissah, who had led Ghana’s delegation to the climax of Nigeria’s 100 years of unification called for swift and co-ordinated action to reverse the trend.
He expressed the concern that road traffic accidents result in casualties that play a substantial role in the cycle of poverty.
They shatter families and rob them of bread winners; accidents deprive business of skilled labour and create huge health-related debts.
Too often it leads to the sacrifice of the education of children who have to assume the role of caretakers for dead or injured family members,” Vice President Amissah-Arthur said, adding, “the cost of road accidents is estimated to range from 1 per cent to 3 per cent of a country’s GDP.
This cost arises from the damage to property, in the cost of treatment and rehabilitation of victims and the productivity losses and the loss of wages for those killed or disabled by injuries.
This situation is alarming for those of us in the low-income regions of the world. We need to increase our efforts in road safety and reduce crashes and its consequent injuries and fatalities.”
Vice President Amissah-Arthur observed the challenge of reducing might appear daunting, but the Government of Ghana is encouraged by the positive experiences of other countries and regions that have achieved success in reducing road accidents.
“… It is necessary that we set a course of prevention and reduction through the use of the right systems.
“We may not need to reinvent the wheel but simply adapt tested solutions that suit our circumstances.”
Vice President Amissah-Arthur agreed with a statement by the Secretary-General of the United Nations in 2007 that it took deliberate efforts of many individuals and many sectors of society, Governmental and non-Governmental alike.
The Vice President enjoined Ministers of Transport, Health and Education; health care providers; automobile associations; educators; students; insurers; vehicle manufacturers; the media and victims of road traffic crashes and their families to get adequately involved in effort to reduce automobile crashes.
He however, observed that a strong commitment at the political level was crucial, stressing “we have every opportunity to do something positive to improve road safety in our respective countries.
“We can begin by committing to building teams and prioritizing critical actions at the highest level of governance that will increase protection for road users, “he added.
Vice President Amissah-Arthur recalled that in 2011 the United Nations launched the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety.
During this period all Governments are being invited to develop strategies and also increase funding and advocacy for actions that will reduce the current global road traffic crash casualty rate by half, by the year 2020.
He stressed the need to establish and implement some simple pro-active measures that would guarantee hope rather than apprehension in the use of roads.
The Vice President spoke of the Government interventions such as the launch of the Decade of Action for Road Safety for the period 2011 to 2020, the launch of National Road Safety Strategy III as the national blueprint for road safety management in Ghana.
Aside the introduction of road traffic legislation and a ban on the use of motor cycles for commercial passenger purposes, there is a need to review the mandate of lead agencies to offer leadership in the planning and management of road safety policy direction and implementation, so that they can demand responsibility on behalf of Government on road safety actions.
“It is necessary to call on countries that are yet to establish these lead agencies to do so as a matter of urgency.
He announced Ghana was using framework of the National Road Strategy to decentralize road safety management by empowering the local governance structures on the issue.
Also, the Ghana National Road Safety Commission has developed a policy framework and engaged the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development as well as the metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives to ensure that road safety was well-established in the development agenda of local assemblies.
Over 300 metropolitan district chief executives with their district coordinating directors and planners had been trained in this regard.
He said Ghana’s response to the importation of over-aged vehicles to place a penalty on the import of ‘over aged’ vehicles to increase their cost and make their patronage unattractive.
Vice President Amissah-Arthur called for a public- business sector and civil society partnership to address road safety issues in an effective manner.
“We can build coalitions that work for the public good at nominal cost to Government, “he said. Mr Adoke announced that the Nigerian Government was committed to the security of drivers
He said aside the building of effective data base, road traffic issues were broadly being made part of the school curriculum. Earlier, Mr Osita Chidoka, Corps Marshall and Chief Executive of the Federal Road Safety Corps, took the Vice President round through the headquarters of the Corps.
Vice President Amissah-Arthur inspected a guard mounted by the Corps in his honour and signed the Visitors Book.