The impact of road traffic injuries could be enormous, affecting societies and individuals in different facets.
Despite the global scare of the Covid-19 pandemic within the public health space, in Ghana, there are also the added road crashes that remain a distressing contributor to the mortality rate in the country, Weekend Today can state authoritatively.
According to data collated by the Ghana Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service, between January and March this year alone, 771 persons have died amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
This essentially means more people have died due to road carnage in the period than the number of lives cumulatively claimed by the novel coronavirus, since the country recorded its first two cases back in March 2020.
Our checks at the Ghana Health Service (GHS) as of April 3, 2021, put the mortality rate of the virus at 752. The latest figures from the Police paint a rather unfortunate picture as road accidents within the first quarter surpass Covid-19 casualties. These deaths represent a 29.58% increase from the same period in 2020.
Out of the 4,009 cases reported, 2,476 involved commercial vehicles, 2,771 private vehicles. It is estimated that some 1.4 million people die from road crashes globally, with most of these being the youth and people from developing countries.
Weekend Today’s further investigation showed that in Ghana, 72 persons out of every 100 000 population suffered from grievous bodily injury, and close to 8 of the same population died from Road Traffic Accidents (RTAs) over the past decade.
Sadly, Weekend Today gathered that more than 60% of these road traffic fatalities occurred in children and young persons under 35 years of age.2.
Aside from the mortality and morbidity associated with road crashes, Ghanaian households spend an average of US$ 1687.65 in direct and indirect costs on severe injuries associated with road crashes, while many suffer considerable degrees of psychological distress.
Sharing his perspective on the issue, Director, Programme, and Planning at the National Road Safety Authority (NRSA), David Osarfo Adonteng noted in an interview with Weekend Today that, the burden of road crashes in Ghana require a conscientious and multi-sectorial approach to reduce its occurrence and impact, while policies need strengthening and enforcing at all levels.
He said that the impact of RTAs may be mitigated by efficient emergency systems as well as policies that support the care of victims. However, the NSRA man pointed out that, implementation of traffic rules and regulations was key at the primary level, as discussions on road and vehicle safety are broadened.
Road safety, Mr. Adonteng indicated, should be of concern to all stakeholders, as both motorists and pedestrians are at risk of the hazards of road crashes. At the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra, for instance, our further research work showed road traffic accidents account for 62% of deaths at the casualty unit of the emergency department.
Interestingly, among the deaths caused by road crashes, Weekend Today learned, 50% occurs in pedestrians, 31% in passengers, and 18.7% in motorists. Mr. Adonteng revealed that among persons injured from road traffic crashes, 26% are related to motorbike accidents. To this end, he underscored the need for road safety education.
According to him, it was a crucial element in the prevention strategies for road traffic accidents.
Story Atta KWAKU BOADI