Black spots claim lives

A number of spots on some highways in the country have become so notorious for accidents that they have been listed as black spots.

The term “accident black spot” is used in  road safety management to identify locations where road traffic accidents have historically been high.

Unfortunately, a week does not pass without an accident on our road networks which include the Accra-Kumasi (N6), Accra-Takoradi (N1), Kumasi-Anwiankwanta (N10) and Anwiankwanta-Yamoranza Junction (N8) highways, all on the South-North national commuter corridor.

The Mirror has been shown disturbing statistics about these black spots by the research team of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research — Building & Road Research Institute ((CSIR-BRRI)  which is based in Kumasi.

On the Accra-Kumasi N6 Highway, for example, the Joy FM Junction/Assemblies of God Press-Standard Hotel and branch to join Main Road (Tema Jct)-Total Filling Station, Peace Fm junction to St John’s Grammar School are all designated black spots, both accounting for 267 motor accidents between 2009 and 2011, being the current research available for the nation.

The terminology used in the statistics can be deceptive to the untrained eye. 

For example, “Road traffic crashes (accidents) are recorded as fatal if at least a victim dies within 30 days from the time of the crash.  As such, one fatal accident, for instance, can have as many people perishing.

This means, for example, that within the period under reference, the Gao Filling Station, Medie-Kotoku Junction on the Accra-Takoradi N1 saw 15 motor accidents which resulted in many deaths. This is on a major regional commuter corridor and vehicles carrying several passengers were involved in these accidents.

In the southerly direction on the N1 which links Ghana via the Western Region to the major border trading centre of Elubo in Cote d’Ivoire, the Totap Co.Ltd – Universal Oil/Mobil location saw even more fatal accidents: 20. 

The Alata Co. Ltd-GWCL Junction, Jerusalem location came a close second with 16 fatal accidents, but the highest number of accidents on the chart for the Accra-Takoradi corridor was 107 accidents.

These are just a few of the statistics recorded, and these are just for the southern Ghana. 

The implications are alarming! Just last week, for instance, eight people died on the spot, while nine others sustained varying degrees of injury, when the vehicles on which they were travelling were involved in an accident at a spot near the Gomoa Potsin Junction on the Accra-Cape Coast highway.

The second accident, which claimed the lives of two deputy women’s organisers of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), occurred on the Kintampo-Techiman road when a Yutong bus veered off its lane and ran into the vehicle in which the deceased were travelling.

In addition, statistics from the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service indicated that about 2,096 lives were lost through motor accidents and 12,655 people were injured nationwide in 2013, a drastic increase from statistics for the early 1990s.

As the statistics mount for motor vehicle accidents in Ghana, so do concerns over the causes of these accidents, which include poor roads in some areas, bad driving practices (such as speeding or texting while driving), poor vehicle conditions, as well as an increase in the number of vehicles on our streets.

  No doubt, the recent expose about malpractice at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) will increase suspicion that a lack of  adequate vehicle regulatory oversight might also be a contributory factor. 

Also, according to a study published by the BRRI in 2001, 60 per cent of the blackspots on the Ghanaian highway network are either in settlement environments or the peripheries of settlements and often involve pedestrians, implying that road design and location, the expansion of settlements, as well as pedestrian practices, together with other factors mentioned here, must be considered causes of  accidents.

While the single most significant cause of the accidents may be subject to debate, what is certain to most Ghanaians is that the government has a tall mountain to climb if it is to meet the objective set in October 2008 by the Ghana National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) to achieve single-digit accident fatality by 2015.

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