Open letter to the Inspector General of Police
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The spectacular increase of vehicles on the road has been causing a steady growth accident rates on our highways. This has become a major social and public health problem and therefore needs a special attention. Evidently, we see every day in our streets the amount of fatal road traffic accidents that occur claiming youthful lives and properties. Let me take this opportunity to highlight some key causes of these accidents and propose possible solutions.
To begin with, these accidents are random events that are caused by the interplay of diverse factors relating to the road and its condition, the road users, the vehicles, the environment and authorities. Invariably, a combination of two or more of these factors may lead to accidents.
Looking at our road and road conditions, there are serious faulty geometric designs specially along the Trans Gambia route. Sight distance, super elevations, transition, and even the slippery road condition with inadequate friction are all engineering failures causing accidents. Also, the size of roads as compared to the amount of road users in the major urban centers is also a contributing factor.
Road users (drivers and pedestrians) are as well a major part of the problem. Drivers cause accidents through rash driving in excessive speed, violation of traffic rules as well as traffic signs and signals. Meanwhile, the issue of drivers behaving inappropriately maybe associated to either ignorance to traffic rules or negligence to observing them. Stray animals, unmanned level crossings, advertisement boards affecting visibility of drivers and a host of other such things may also cause accidents.
Sir, please allow me to put forward some sustainable and achievable solutions geared towards reducing the amount of road traffic accidents.
One of the most important steps that can be institutionalized is accident recording. Collecting and recording comprehensive information relating to RTAs cannot be over-emphasized. Such records will help to identify causes of RTAs and evolve methods of overcoming the deficiencies observed in previous approaches; statistical techniques may also be employed in the analysis of RTA data that can trigger informed intervention decisions. In addition, we can also refer ourselves to the categories of preventive measures to reduce accident rates. Theses preventive measures are generally known as “the three Es”.
Engineering measures employed in constructing our roads should be well scrutinized. This scrutiny will include proper design of geometric elements of the road, speed control measures like rumble strips, speed bumps etc., road lightening and illumination including regular maintenance.
Enforcement of traffic regulations. Traffic signs and signals should be taken into cognizance and observed by all road users. Control pedestrian traffic through pedestrian crossings and signals, parking control measures, training and supervision of drivers including strictness in issuing driving license for different purposes.
Educating road users through the mass media like print and electronic media, films and documentaries for road safety propaganda. Inclusion of road safety education in school syllabus to create awareness at an early age.
Sir, we must understand that road sense is the offspring of courtesy and the parent of safety therefore I believe with aforementioned strategies put in place and fully implemented, we will go a long way in reducing the number of RTAs we register.
At this point I am tempted to ask; Do we stop accidents or do we let accidents stop us? We need to prepare and prevent rather than repair and repent.
Ass. Public Health Officer,
Ministry of Health.